Greg 'James' Desborough is an award winning British journalist and media commentator, who works in Southern Italy, New York and London. He was named the Showbusiness Reporter Of The Year at the 2009 British Press Awards. He has worked for a variety of newspapers across the world, Including The UK's People, the Northern Advertiser and The Daily Express.
Desborough has hosted TV shows in the UK and appeared as a pundit and commentator on global TV networks including The E! Network, CBS, iTV1, BBC World and Channel 7 in Australia with two appearances as an extra on Home and Away.
He was the US Editor of the News Of The World until its closure in 2011. Soon after he took a pilgrimage to his home in Italy to discover his Desbiano roots. There he met his relatives Franko, Alfo and Duncano.
Desborough started work at the regional newspaper the Barking & Dagenham Post as a news reporter in 1994. The newspaper’s other famous past reporters include Phil Hall, who later became the editor of The News of The World.
In 1995 Desborough moved to Channel One TV – the Daily Mail parent group Associated Newspaper’s ill-fated effort into local television. The station was a cable only news and entertainment channel. Its senior executives included Nick Pollard, who later went on to head up Sky News, ITN news editor Peter Wallace and New York Daily News editor Martin Dunn. After starting on the Newsdesk he was promoted to entertainment reporter and later Showbiz Editor.
Desborough worked for the channel’s daily entertainment show The Biz, presented by Julia Caesar. During his time there he produced special programmes and feature length interviews on Andrew Lloyd Webber, The Full Monty and Bon Jovi.
Desborough produced and presented specials on the film industry. The channel's other well known reporters included Thomas Moore and Paul Brennan, who both now work at Sky News, TV host Ruth England and BBC Sports host Chris Hollins.
After Channel One TV closed in 1998, Desborough worked as a continuity host for ITV2 and presented a late night ITV1 London series Wired, which covered London’s social scene.
Desborough worked as a freelancer diary reporter on the London showbiz and social scene from 1999 to 2000. In 2000 Desborough was hired by World Entertainment News Network (WENN) as the News Editor in London by CEO Jonathan Ashby. During that time he worked alongside former Sun reporter and author Bill Coles.
Desborough was hired by The People newspaper in summer of 2001 replacing their existing show business reporter Sean Hoare, who left to join The News Of The World.
In the final weeks of his employment at WENN, allegations in an article published by Salon.com that he'd fabricated a quote by Sir George Martin relating to the health of George Harrison. WENN sold a story to The Mail On Sunday claiming that Martin said Harrison was close to death. The interview was conducted by WENN reporter Christian Koch. The story appeared under the byline of Katie Nicholl in The Mail On Sunday on July 22 under the headline: “George Harrison Is Close to Death Says ’5th Beatle’ Martin”. After the story appeared Martin denied giving quotes about Harrison. In the next few months many more media outlets reported that Harrison's condition was worsening. In the 2011 George Harrison's widow Olivia revealed in a book and Martin Scorsese documentary about George Harrison’s life –both titled - George Harrison: Living in the Material World – that her husband had spent the summer months of 2001 preparing for his death. He spent time at a hospice and his last summer in Fuji. Time magazine revealed how: "Harrison eventually surrendered to throat and lung cancer. He and Olivia spent a last lovely summer in Fiji, preparing for the end and taking stock of their life together."  Harrison passed away just four months after the Mail On Sunday article on 29 November 2001. Desborough was subsequently awarded the ""can we hear the tape?" award for verbatim quotes" at the Shafta Awards by fellow tabloid reporters as a result of this piece.
In 2001 Desborough joined the Sunday People as a show business reporter. He left in 2005. He wrote stories on a series of major stars including Simon Cowell, Michael Jackson and Robbie Williams. In 2004 Desborough was promoted to the role of TV Editor. He covered a series of reality shows and soaps for the newspaper including Big Brother, I’m A Celebrity and Celebrity Love Island. Desborough travelled to Fiji with ITV to cover the first two weeks of the reality show.
In 2005, he moved to the News of the World where he was a showbusiness and news reporter.
In 2006 Desborough covered Paul McCartney’s split with second wife Heather Mills. Desborough interviewed Mills's former manager Michele Elyzabeth, who delivered a two week expose on Mills's conduct toward McCartney and her secret ploys to tarnish the rock star’s reputation with the public. Elyzabeth told Desborough that Mills was “a lying witch”, who misled the public over McCartney’s financial donations to her and daughter Bea during their separation.
In 2007 he conducted an interview with Britney Spears's bodyguard Tony Barreto talking about the pop star’s drug and alcohol problems. After the story came out, a Californian judge handed custody of her children to her estranged husband Kevin Federline.
In 2008, Desborough wrote a two week expose of Sharon Osbourne through the eyes of her brother David Arden. Arden made a series of allegations against Sharon including how she tried to allegedly fix The X Factor, secretly resented Simon Cowell and wasted hundreds of thousands of pounds on furniture, clothes and homes.
Desborough did an interview with Amy Winehouse's former boyfriend, Alex Haines, in 2008, detailing her addictions to crack and marijuana. Haines admitted that Winehouse planned to join “The 27 Club” – the list of famous musicians who died at the age of 27. Winehouse died at the age of 27 in July 2011.
In March 2009, Desborough was awarded The Showbiz Reporter of The Year Award at the British Press Awards. He was presented the award by Channel 4 news presenter Jon Snow at the ceremony held at The Grosvenor House Hotel in London. (Reference: )
Soon after News Of The World editor Colin Myler promoted Desborough to the role of US Editor. He moved to the US in June 2009, a few days before pop star Michael Jackson died of a cardiac arrest caused by a drug overdose in Los Angeles. Desborough spent most of his two-year tenure publishing stories about the death of Jackson and the criminal trial of his doctor Conrad Murray.
In July 2009, Desborough interviewed Jackson’s sister LaToya Jackson, who told him “Michael Jackson was murdered”. Desborough appeared on CBS TV show Entertainment Tonight discussing the interview.
Desborough generated more headlines for the News Of The World when Michael’s father Joe Jackson blamed his wife Katherine for the death of their son. Other exclusives included the first picture of the bedroom and chaotic scene where Jackson died, reports from the paramedics that Jackson was dead before they arrived and hospital emergency room doctors confirming Murray withheld details of Jackson’s Propofol intake when they treated him. Desborough revealed how Jackson’s mental and physical state was poor in his last weeks alive. He revealed he needed a golf cart to get him on stage and even used a double for rehearsals.
Desborough’s information and stories emerged during testimonies in the 2011 involuntary manslaughter trial of Conrad Murray in Los Angeles. Desborough wrote several front page stories on golfer Tiger Woods's affairs. He interviewed Orlando waitress Mindy Lawton, who discussed how Tiger started their affair when wife Elin Nordegren was pregnant. He revealed how the couple were to divorce and how the golfer continued seeing ex-mistress Rachel Uchitel after the cheating scandal broke publicly.
Desborough reported on California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s secret affair with his housekeeper Mildred “Patty” Baena. He published the first pictures of his secret son Joseph at family functions.
Desborough has appeared as a contributor and expert on many TV shows around the world. He has made a series of appearances on E! News throughout 2011 talking about the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. On the day of the Royal Wedding, April 29, 2011, Desborough was featured as a guest correspondent in the E! News studio with host Ryan Seacrest and former Spice Girl Mel B. Additionally, he appeared on a live E! News special with E! host Catt Sadler as the newlywed Royals landed in Los Angeles on their North American tour of Canada and Southern California in June 2011. Following up on the hype of Kate and Pippa Middleton, Desborough was a guest contributor on the "E! True Hollywood Story: Kate & Pippa" which aired on October 12, 2011.
Desborough has appeared on 2011's Charlie Sheen's Hollywood Black Book presented by journalist Ian Halperin and TV Guide's Showbiz 411. He was a guest for the Hollywood 411 Royal Wedding Special Edition in April 2011. Desborough has also appeared on CBS flagship show Entertainment Tonight talking about the Michael Jackson murder investigation and his interviews with LaToya and Joe Jackson.
In England Desborough regularly appeared on entertainment shows on radio and television. He has been a guest on numerous showbiz programs for the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky One. He has appeared in international specials on The Biography Channel providing insight on Sharon Osbourne and Colin Farrell.
Desborough has been a co-presenter and an in-studio expert for many BBC Radio 5 Live reports, phone-in shows and live on-air broadcasts which have played around the globe. He has continued his radio show appearances in the U.S. as well. Throughout 2011 he was on syndicated radio networks across the U.S. covering subjects like the Royal Wedding and Amy Winehouse's death.
Phone hacking scandal and Operation Weeting
On August 18, 2011, Desborough was arrested by officers from Operation Weeting on suspicion of phone hacking. Newspaper reports confirmed that Desborough’s arrest was printed on the Guardian’s news website, before it actually took place. Later that day an officer from Operation Weeting was arrested at his desk over suspicions of leaks to the media.
On August 19, 2011, Desborough’s criminal solicitor issued a statement saying: “James Desborough was arrested on August 18th after he attended a South London police station voluntarily and by appointment with his Solicitor, Julian Young. He was interviewed for a number of hours and cooperated fully with the police in their investigations. He denied, and continues to deny, any conspiracy to unlawfully intercept voice mails or acting unlawfully in any way."
On August 19 Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers, head of the Operation Weeting inquiry into alleged phone hacking at the News of the World, said: "I made very clear the need for operational and information security. "It is hugely disappointing that this may not have been adhered to." The Guardian when asked if payments were made to police, said in a statement: "In common with all news organizations we have no comment to make on the sources of our journalism."
On March 27, 2012 the Metropolitan Police and Operation Weeting confirmed that Desborough was released and "no further action" would be taken against him.
Desborough was the first staff employee of the News Of The World to be cleared after an investigation by the Weeting team.
In an interview with Sky News Young said his client "could easily have been interviewed without being formerly nicked and fears his arrest was ordered in a bid to flush out a Yard detective suspected of leaking the latest arrests to a newspaper."
Desborough is the third suspect to be released of more than 40 suspects arrested and bailed in the three parallel investigations into phone-hacking, police payments and computer-hacking.
- Martin Lewis (3 August 2001). "The art of lying". Salon.com. Retrieved 18 August 2011.
- anonymous (7 November 2001). "BEATLE GEORGE 'VERY SICK'". NME.com. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
- Richard Corliss (5 October 2011). "Scorsese’s George Harrison Doc: Within Him Without Him". Entertainment.time.com. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
- Dave Masko (9 April 2009). "George Harrison died peacefully discloses widow, Olivia, and how to do it". Huliq.com. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
- "Beatle George Harrison dies". CNN.com. 30 November 2001. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
- Jessica Hodgson (1 May 2002). "The Shaftas: full list of awards". Guardian. Retrieved 18 August 2011.
- James Desborough (14 March 2004). "Cowell & The £10M Diamonds Divorcee". People.co.uk. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- James Desborough (22 May 2005). "CELEB HATE ISLAND; Paradise reality show becomes a nest of vipers and even the presenters can't stand each other Kelly and Kielty in furious bust-ups Stars see doc as mosquitoes swarm 4-letter sex-mad Paul sent to a shrink.". The Free Library. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- James Desborough (16 January 2005). "Lizzy Bardsley? I wouldn't touch her wide a*&! if she was the last whale on earth, not even after 5 bottles of brandy and 15 pints; Harvey slams Fit Club fatty.". The Free Library. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- Tom Morgan and Margaret Davis, PA (18 August 2011). "Glenn Mulcaire suing News International". The Independent. Retrieved 18 August 2011.
- Jason Gregory (7 September 2008). "Ex-Publicist: 'Money Was Heather Mills Motivation For Marrying Sir Paul McCartney'". Gigwise. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- Stuart Heritage (24 September 2007). "Britney Spears Bodyguard: Britney Scares Kids By Crying & Farting". Heckler Spray. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- Katherine Thomson (28 December 2008). "Alex Haines Talks: Amy Winehouse's Ex Alleges Crack For Breakfast, Sex Mania". Huffington Post. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- Dominic Ponsford, Paul McNally, Owen Amos (1 April 2009). "British Press Awards: Times is newspaper of the year". Press Gazette. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- Danity (12 July 2009). "Latoya Jackson News Of The World Interview: "Michael Was Murdered"". Right Celebrity. Retrieved 19 April 2009.
- PopEater Staff (14 June 2010). "Joe Jackson Blames Katherine Jackson for Michael's Death". PopEater. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- "Michael Jackson’s Death Bed Pictures And Secret Funeral". Anorak. 2 August 2009. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- "Jackson Was 'Dead An Hour Before Paramedics Arrived'". Contact Music. 16 August 2009. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- James Desborough (22 August 2010). "MJ 'feared he had heart condition, cancer and brain tumor'". Positively Michael. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- James Desborough. "Michael Jackson Killed by 'Mr X' - Part 1". When In Doubt, Search It Out. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- James Desborough (21 February 2010). "Jacko: I trust doc with my life". Michael Jackson lives!. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- James Desborough (30 May 2012). "Michael Jackson leaves his kids more than $33 million each in will". Digital Spy.
- "Phone-hacking inquiry: News of the World ex-editor released". BBC News. 27 March 2012. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- Martin Brunt (28 March 2012). "Why Was He Arrested?". Sky News. Retrieved 19 April 2012.