David Hencke

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David Hencke is a British investigative journalist and writer, named 'Political Journalist of the Year' at the 2012 British Press Awards.


Hencke began as a student journalist in 1965 at Warwick University as editor of its first university newspaper, Giblet, while studying history and politics. In 1968 he worked for the Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph, then in 1971 joined the Western Mail in Cardiff and in 1973 the Times Higher Education Supplement.[1]

Hencke joined The Guardian in 1976, becoming the newspaper's Westminster Correspondent in 1986. He has won numerous awards for his political coverage.[2]

In 1994 he was named What the Papers Say Journalist of the Year for his investigation which uncovered the "Cash-for-questions affair". His exposé led to the bankruptcy of Ian Greer Associates, one of the country’s biggest lobbying companies, and the resignations of two junior ministers, Neil Hamilton and Tim Smith.[3][4]

In 1998 he won Scoop of the Year for a story that caused the first resignation of Peter Mandelson, over a secret undeclared £373,000 home loan given to him by fellow Treasury minister, Geoffrey Robinson.

In 2009 Hencke took voluntary redundancy from The Guardian after 33 years. He works as the Westminster correspondent for Tribune and an investigative journalist for the (now closed) Exaro website.[4]

In 2012, Hencke was named 'Political Journalist of the Year' at the British Press Awards.[5][6]

In 2014, Hencke was longlisted for the Orwell prize for political journalism.[7]

Elm Guest House child abuse investigation[edit]

It was David Hencke who passed Tom Watson claims, later discredited, that child abuse had taken place at Elm Guest House in Barnes in the late 1970s and early 1980s.[8][9] Tom Watson then raised the allegations in parliament and the police subsequently launched a scoping exercise under the name "Operation Fairbank". Five Metropolitan Police officers considered allegations relating to Elm Guest House, and other allegations gathered by Watson. Later a full-scale criminal investigation specifically addressing allegations relating to Elm Guest House was launched under the name "Operation Fernbridge." Operation Fernbridge was subsequently closed with no prosecutions being brought in connection with child abuse at Elm Guest House.

One of the figures accused by Hencke of child sexual abuse, former MP John Hemming, succeeded in a libel action against him in January 2019, resulting in Hencke and Graham Wilmer of the Lantern Project paying over £10,000 in compensation for the false allegations.[10]


  • David Hencke (1976) Colleges in Crisis
  • David Hencke and Francis Beckett (2004) The Blairs and their court
  • David Hencke (2004) Marching to the Fault Line which examined the 1984 miners’ strike in the UK
  • David Hencke and Francis Beckett (2005) The Survivor: Tony Blair in peace and war


  1. ^ "My Career so far..." David Hencke. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  2. ^ Stephen Brook (19 June 2009). "Duncan Campbell and David Hencke among those leaving Guardian". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  3. ^ "Chronology - How the scandal unfolded", The Guardian, 22 December 1999]
  4. ^ a b William Turvill (19 February 2013). "David Hencke: Leveson would have 'seriously damaged' cash-for-questions investigation". Press Gazette. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  5. ^ Exaro, 5 December 2012Press Gazette, 4 December 2012
  6. ^ William Turvill (22 March 2013). "How David Hencke exposed Whitehall tax avoidance scandal". Press Gazette. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  7. ^ [1] Press Gazette | Investigative site Exaro News among nominations for Orwell Prize political journalism award, 26 March 2014
  8. ^ Hencke, David (16 February 2013). "Public should know truth about VIP paedophile ring". Exaro. London. Archived from the original on 23 February 2013. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
  9. ^ "Operation Fernbridge: Norfolk priest Tony McSweeney arrested". The BBC news online. London. 7 February 2013. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
  10. ^ Evans, Martin (27 January 2019). "Former MP falsely accused of abuse wins libel action" – via www.telegraph.co.uk.

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