Bureau of Investigative Journalism

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Bureau of Investigative Journalism
FoundedApril 2010
FocusInvestigative journalism
Key people
Rozina Breen, CEO/Editor in Chief, Meirion Jones, Editor, James Ball, Global Editor, Emily Wilson, Bureau Local Editor, Miriam Wells, Impact Editor, Frankie Goodway, Production Editor

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (typically abbreviated to TBIJ or "the Bureau") is a nonprofit news organisation based in London. It was founded in 2010 to pursue "public interest" investigations. [1] The Bureau works with publishers and broadcasters to maximise the impact of its investigations.[2] Since its founding it has collaborated with Panorama, Newsnight, and File on 4 at the BBC, Channel 4 News and Dispatches, as well as the Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph, and The Sunday Times, among others.[3] The Bureau has covered a wide range of stories and won many awards including for its coverage of the drone wars and investigation of "joint enterprise" murder convictions.[4] Its CEO/Editor in Chief is Rozina Breen.[5]


The Bureau was established in 2010 by former Sunday Times reporter Elaine Potter, who worked on exposing the Thalidomide scandal, and her husband David Potter, who founded software company Psion. Initial funding for the project came from the Potters' charitable foundation, which committed £2 million.[6] Elaine cites one of her inspirations being the creation two years previous of ProPublica, a nonprofit organisation based in New York with a similar remit, also funded philanthropically.[7]

In the run-up to launch Stephen Grey was acting editor[8] until the appointment of Iain Overton as its first permanent managing editor.[9]

Ian Overton was succeeded by former Sunday Times Insight editor Christopher Hird in December 2012[10] and Rachel Oldroyd became Managing Editor in 2014.[11] Rozina Breen became CEO/Editor in Chief in 2022.

Notable investigations[edit]

US raid on Yakla, Yemen[edit]

On January 29, 2017, a United States-led Special Operations Forces operation was carried out in Yakla Village, Qifah District,[12] in the Al Bayda province in central Yemen. It was the first raid authorized by President Donald Trump,[13] The US military initially denied there were any civilian casualties, but later declared it was investigating if they occurred.[14] An investigation by the Bureau on the ground found that 9 children under the age of 13, with the youngest victim a three-month-old baby were killed. Beside the nine children killed, one pregnant woman was also killed.[15] The Bureau's story was picked up by the Guardian,[16] Newsweek[17] and many other media outlets.

Bell Pottinger operations in Iraq[edit]

The Bureau working with the Sunday Times revealed on October 2, 2016 that the Pentagon paid British PR firm Bell Pottinger $540 million to create fake terrorist videos, fake news articles for Arab news channels and propaganda videos.[18][19]

An investigation by Abigail Fielding Smith and Crofton Black revealed the details of the multimillion-pound operation. Bell Pottinger was paid by the US Department of Defence (DoD) for five contracts from May 2007 to December 2011, according to The Times and the Bureau.[20][21] Lord Bell confirmed Bell Pottinger reported to the Pentagon, the CIA and the U.S. National Security Council on its work in Iraq.[citation needed]

Deaths from antibiotic resistance[edit]

The Bureau is running a continuing investigation into the threat posed by antibiotic resistant bacteria. In December 2016 Madlen Davies working with the Sunday Telegraph revealed that superbugs were killing at least twice as many people as the government estimated.[22] In October 2016, Andrew Wasley working with the Guardian revealed that pork contaminated with MRSA was being sold at Asda and Sainsburys.[23]

Covert drone war[edit]

The Bureau monitors drone strike casualties in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. In Yemen and Somalia, these figures also include victims of drone strikes, airstrikes, missile attacks and ground operations. Unlike other organisations that track such deaths, the Bureau focuses on identifying non-militant deaths, including children.[24] The data from this research is published online.[25] Jack Serle was one of three Bureau reporters who won the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in 2013 for "their research into Barack Obama’s drone wars and their consequences for civilians".[26]

Binary options[edit]

A series of articles in 2016 written by Melanie Newman exposed the "real wolves of Wall Street" involved in binary options fraud. According to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau's head of crime, Detective Chief Inspector Andy Fyfe, this is the biggest fraud being perpetrated against British targets today with police receiving an average of two reports of binary trading fraud a day, with the average investor losing £16,000. Fyfe described this as "just the tip of the iceberg" because most of the frauds are not reported to the police because the fraudsters are usually located abroad.[27][28]

Joint enterprise[edit]

In February 2016, the UK Supreme Court ruled that the law on "joint enterprise" in murder cases, which allows for several people to be charged with the same offence even though they may have played very different roles in the crime, had been wrongly interpreted.[29] This followed a long-running Bureau investigation into joint enterprise.[30] The Bureau found that black British men were more than three times as likely to be serving life sentences as a result of a joint enterprise conviction than those in the prison population overall.[31] Three Bureau reporters – Maeve McClenaghan, Melanie McFadyean and Rachel Stevenson – won the 2013–14 Bar Council Legal Reporting Award for the coverage.[32]

Europe's missing millions[edit]

An investigation in collaboration with the Financial Times into how the European Union structural funds were used, and whether the policy was achieving what it set out to do.[33] It found that millions of euros were being siphoned off by organised crime syndicates, and that money was being used to support multinational corporations instead of small and medium-sized businesses, including help to finance a British American Tobacco cigarette factory.[33] The Bureau co-produced an episode of File on 4 with the BBC on the story[34] which received the UACES Reporting Europe Prize.[35]

Lobbying's hidden influence[edit]

Public relations firm Bell Pottinger were the centre of a Bureau covert filming operation published in The Independent. In the footage senior executives claim that they can get UK prime minister David Cameron to speak to the Chinese premier on behalf of one of their clients within 24 hours, and that they have a team which "sorts" negative Wikipedia coverage.[36]

Bell Pottinger subsequently filed a complaint with the Press Complaints Commission about the investigation, which was rejected.[37]

Deaths in police custody[edit]

An investigation in collaboration with The Independent found that the number of people who had died after being forcibly restrained whilst in police custody was higher than official figures showed. This was due to the exclusion of anyone who had died following restraint but had not at that point been formally arrested.[38] The Bureau also reported their findings with the BBC in an episode of File on 4.[39]

The story won an Amnesty International Media Award.[40]

Iraq war logs[edit]

The Iraq war logs were 391,832 classified United States Army field reports leaked to WikiLeaks,[41] which shared them with a number of news organisations, including the Bureau, before publishing them online in their entirety.[42] The Bureau worked with Al Jazeera[43] and Channel 4[44] to analyse the documents which detail torture, summary executions, and war crimes carried out by US forces.[45]

The Bureau's reporting received an Amnesty International Media Award.[46]

Russia Report[edit]

In 2019, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism started a crowdfunding exercise to raise funds for legal action to force the British government to release the "Russia Report" detailing the Intelligence and Security Committee's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 Brexit referendum.[47]


The Bureau was seriously criticised after the Newsnight McAlpine affair in November 2012. BBC Newsnight broadcast an investigation of the North Wales child abuse scandal. The reporter was Angus Stickler who had been seconded to the BBC by the Bureau. Stickler's broadcast report included claims that a prominent, but unnamed, former Conservative politician had sexually abused children during the 1970s.[48] Users of Twitter and other social media immediately identified him as Lord McAlpine. After The Guardian reported that it was mistaken identity, Lord McAlpine issued a strong denial.[49] The accuser unreservedly apologised, admitting that, as soon as he saw a photograph of the individual, he realised he had been mistaken.[50] BBC director-general George Entwistle resigned later that day.[48] The Bureau's Managing Editor Ian Overton and Angus Stickler also resigned.


  1. ^ "Journalism bureau opens for business with seven investigations on the go", The Guardian, 27 April 2010. Accessed 26 September 2015.
  2. ^ "About the Bureau". The Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  3. ^ "Profile: Bureau of Investigative Journalism", BBC News, 12 November 2012. Accessed 20 April 2015.
  4. ^ "Our awards". The Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Archived from the original on 29 January 2017. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  5. ^ ""BBC hit by resignations"The Times,3 March 2022
  6. ^ "UK investigative journalism bureau wins £2m grant", Press Gazette, 17 July 2010. Accessed 12 October 2015.
  7. ^ "Investigative Bureau Tries to Make Up for British News Cutbacks", The New York Times, 4 April 2010. Accessed 26 September 2015.
  8. ^ "£2m boost for independent investigative journalism bureau", The Guardian, 17 July 2010. Accessed 18 September 2009.
  9. ^ "Investigative bureau appoints Overton", The Guardian, 21 September 2009. Accessed 27 April 2010.
  10. ^ "Former Insight chief Christopher Hird made editor of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism", Press Gazette, 6 December 2012. Accessed 12 October 2015.
  11. ^ "Trustees appoint new Managing Editor". The Bureau of Investigative Journalism. 23 October 2014. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  12. ^ "Wadi Yakla, Yemen Area Map".
  13. ^ Eric, Schmitt; David E., Sanger (1 February 2017). "Questions Cloud U.S. Raid on Qaeda Branch in Yemen". New York Times. No. Web. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  14. ^ "U.S. Raid in Yemen Garners Intelligence". Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  15. ^ Shabibi, Namir; al Sane, Nasser (8 February 2017). "Nine young children killed: The full details of botched US raid in Yemen". The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
  16. ^ Borger, Julian; Jacobs, Ben (8 February 2017). "Yemen wants US to reassess counter-terrorism strategy after botched raid". Retrieved 15 September 2017 – via www.theguardian.com.
  17. ^ "The full details of Trump's botched Yemen raid that killed nine children". 9 February 2017. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  18. ^ Crofton Black; Abigail Fielding-Smith; Jon Ungoed-Thomas (2 October 2016). "Lord Bell ran $540m covert PR ops in Iraq for Pentagon". The Times. London. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  19. ^ Crofton Black, Abigail Fielding-Smith (2 October 2016). "Pentagon Paid for Fake 'Al Qaeda' Videos". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  20. ^ Fielding-Smith, Abigail; Black, Crofton; Ungoed-Thomas, Jon (2 October 2016). "Soap operas and fakery: selling peace in Iraq". The Times.
  21. ^ Black, Abigail Fielding-Smith and Crofton. "Fake News and False Flags". The Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  22. ^ "Superbugs killing twice as many people as government says". The Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  23. ^ Wasley, Andrew; Hansen, Kjeld; Harvey, Fiona (3 October 2016). "Revealed: MRSA variant found in British pork at Asda and Sainsbury's". Retrieved 15 September 2017 – via www.theguardian.com.
  24. ^ "Drone Strikes Kill Innocent People. Why Is It So Hard to Know How Many?", The New Republic, 25 October 2013. Accessed 25 October 2015.
  25. ^ "There’s Not Enough Data On Civilian Drone Casualties", FiveThirtyEight, 23 April 2015. Accessed 25 October 2015.
  26. ^ "Previous Winners", Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. Accessed 25 October 2015.
  27. ^ "'Killers having lunch': The real life Wolves of Wall Street". The Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Retrieved 15 September 2017.[non-primary source needed]
  28. ^ Times of Israel
  29. ^ "Joint Enterprise: Praise for Bureau's role in run-up to historic Supreme Court decision". The Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  30. ^ "'Joint enterprise' prosecution figures released", BBC News, 1 April 2014. Accessed 1 November 2015.
  31. ^ "Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice", The Independent, 17 December 2014. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  32. ^ "Bar Council announces legal reporting awards" Archived 16 September 2017 at the Wayback Machine, General Council of the Bar, 10 November 2014. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  33. ^ a b "Europe’s grand vision loses focus", Financial Times, 29 November 2010. Accessed 18 October 2015.
  34. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - File on 4, Europe's Missing Millions", BBC News, 5 December 2010. Accessed 1 March 2013.
  35. ^ "UACES Reporting Europe Prize 2011 Winners" Archived March 26, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, UACES Reporting Europe. Accessed 1 March 2013.
  36. ^ "Caught on camera: top lobbyists boasting how they influence the PM", The Independent, 26 July 2012. Accessed 1 November 2015.
  37. ^ "A victory for investigative journalism as PCC rejects complaint by Bell Pottinger against The Independent", The Independent, 26 July 2012. Accessed 1 November 2015.
  38. ^ "Rate of deaths in custody is higher than officials admit", The Independent, 31 January 2012. Accessed 1 March 2013.
  39. ^ "Deaths in police custody figures 'understated'", BBC News, 31 January 2012. Accessed 24 October 2015.
  40. ^ "Amnesty announces 2011 Media Awards winners", Amnesty International, 30 May 2012. Accessed 24 October 2015.
  41. ^ "The WikiLeaks Iraq War Logs: Greatest Data Leak in US Military History", Der Spiegel, 22 October 2010. Accessed 18 October 2015
  42. ^ "The Man Who Spilled the Secrets", Vanity Fair, February 2011. Accessed 18 October 2015.
  43. ^ "WikiLeaks releases secret Iraq file", Al Jazeera, 24 October 2010. Accessed 18 October 2015
  44. ^ "Iraq secret war files, 400,000 leaked", Channel 4, 22 October 2011. Accessed 18 October 2015.
  45. ^ "Iraq war logs: secret files show how US ignored torture", The Guardian, 22 October 2010. Accessed 18 October 2015.
  46. ^ "Amnesty announces 2011 Media Awards winners", Amnesty International, 24 May 2011. Accessed 18 October 2015.
  47. ^ "Bureau of Investigative Journalism fundraises to take the UK Government to court over Russian Report". www.journalism.co.uk. 14 November 2019. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  48. ^ a b "BBC crisis: timeline of events", The Telegraph, 15 November 2012. Accessed 15 November 2015.
  49. ^ Leigh, David; Morris, Steven; Van der Zee, Bibi (8 November 2012). ""Mistaken identity" led to top Tory abuse claim". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  50. ^ "Lord McAlpine victim of mistaken identity, abused man says", BBC News, 9 November 2012. Accessed 15 November 2015.

External links[edit]