Ed Vulliamy

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Ed Vulliamy
Ed wearing a blue and white striped shirt, speaking into a microphone
Ed Vulliamy speaking at the 2006 Omarska camp commemoration
Born (1954-08-01) 1 August 1954 (age 65)
OccupationJournalist, correspondent
Known forWar reporting in Bosnia and Iraq

Edward Sebastian Vulliamy (born 1 August 1954) is a British journalist and writer.

Early life and career[edit]

Vulliamy was born and raised in Notting Hill, London. His mother is the children's author and illustrator Shirley Hughes,[1] his father was the architect John Sebastian Vulliamy, of the Vulliamy family, and his grandfathers were the Liverpool store owner Thomas Hughes and the author C. E. Vulliamy. He was educated at the independent University College School and at Hertford College, Oxford, where he won an Open Scholarship, wrote a thesis on the Northern Ireland "Troubles" and graduated in Politics and Philosophy.

In 1979, he joined Granada Television's current affairs programme World in Action, and in 1985 won a Royal Television Society (RTS) Award for a film about Ireland. In 1986, he joined The Guardian as a reporter, later Rome correspondent covering the Mafia and Southern Europe. From there, he covered the Balkan wars, revealing a gulag of concentration camps. In August 1992 Vulliamy and British television reporter Penny Marshall managed to gain access to the notorious Omarska and Trnopolje camps, operated by the Bosnian Serbs for mainly Bosnian Muslim and Croat Catholic inmates.[2] Their graphic accounts of the conditions of the prisoners were recorded for the documentary Omarska's survivors: Bosnia 1992.[3] Discovery of the camps was credited with contributing to the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague. He remained in Bosnia for the bulk of the remainder of the war, covering 'ethnic cleansing' from the inside, and the siege of Sarajevo.

For his coverage of the war in Bosnia, Vulliamy won most major awards in British journalism and became the first journalist since the Nuremberg trials to testify at an international war crimes tribunal, the ICTY.[1] He testified for the prosecution in ten trials at the ICTY, including those of Bosnian Serb leaders Dr. Radovan Karadžić and General Ratko Mladić.

In 1991, Vulliamy also covered the aftermath of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, in Iraq, revealing atrocities by Saddam Hussein's troops in the Shiite South.

In 1994-5, and again from 1997 to 2003, Vulliamy was based in Washington and later New York as U.S. Correspondent for The Guardian's sister paper, The Observer. In the United States, he covered the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995, and in its wake, investigated deep within the far-right militia movement. He covered US politics, society, culture and sports across the union, the transition from the presidency of Bill Clinton to George W. Bush. Later, he reported on the lynching of James Byrd in Jasper, Texas, and on its slipstream, penetrated the white supremacist backstory behind the killer's world, in jail and among fringe religious compounds. He was living in New York at the time of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 and covered the story and its aftermath, in the city and along the corridors of power.[1] While based in New York, he reported from Mexico on narco-traffic, organised crime and the mass-murder of women in Ciudad Juárez; from Haiti on the regime of Raoul Cedras and US intervention 1994 US intervention , from Jamaica on organised crime in Jamaica, from Cuba on the dissident movement and from Nicaragua.

Vulliamy closely covered the lead-up to the invasion of, and war in, Iraq from 2002 onwards. He clashed with his newspaper, The Observer, over its support for the invasion, often unable to place his stories about false intelligence and non-existence of weapons of mass destruction in the paper (see Official Secrets film below, 2019). He reported from Iraq several times from early 2003 to 2005, on civilian casualties of the invasion, and on the subsequent insurgency.

From 2003 onwards, Vulliamy has worked along the US-Mexican border, reporting on organised crime, narco-traffic, cartel wars, security and migration.[1] This work led to his book Amexica: War Along the Borderline, which in 2013 won the coveted Ryszard Kapuscinski Award for Literary Reportage – named in honour of the writer, creator and master of the genre.[4] He was among the first reporters to reveal the laundering of proceeds of naro-traffic by mainstream high-street banks (Wachovia and HSBC) on a massive scale.

His book The War is Dead, Long Live The War about the survivors of Bosnia's rape and concentration camps was shortlisted for the same Ryszard Kapuscinski prize in 2015.

Vulliamy badly broke his leg in 2013, and wrote a detailed article from the patient's viewpoint about his prolonged treatment with the Ilizarov apparatus, an external frame that stretches the leg.[5] As a result of the accident, he left the staff of The Guardian and The Observer newspapers in October 2016, after 31 years, to become a full-time author, journalist and film-researcher - but continues to work regularly as a reporter for The Guardian, The Observer and Guardian Films on narco-traffic, the US-Mexico border and the peace process between the Colombian government and the FARC.

Vulliamy also writes about football, music and painting. In 2014, he completed a book for Granta about Diego Velázquez's painting Las Meninas, Everything Is Happening: Journey Into A Painting, for Vulliamy's friend Michael Jacobs, who died suddenly of cancer before it was finished. In 2018 he published a memoir through music, When Words Fail: A Life with Music, War and Peace, also for Granta, to be published in the United States as 'Louder Than Bombs' by the University of Chicago Press. The book explores music and conflict, and features the last interview with B.B. King. Vulliamy sings in an occasional blues/rock band, Age Against the Machine.

Current and forthcoming books and journalism for The Guardian returns to Mexico, narco-traffic and organised crime.

In 2019, Vulliamy was played the actor Rhys Ifans in Gavin Hood's acclaimed Hollywood film Official Secrets about the case of Katharine Gun, a GCHQ agent who blew the whistle on illegal bugging of UN diplomats during the lead-up to the Iraq invasion of 2003, with Keira Knightley in the lead role. Vulliamy features in the film furious at censorship by his own paper of a story he filed during October-December 2002 from an inside CIA source, Mel Goodman, affirming that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, while intelligence was being 'cooked' by a special office in the Pentagon - and then locating the NSA secret agent, Frank Koza, who ordered the illegal bugging. Vulliamy has called Ifans' performance "my Alter Idem, more me than I am!".[6]

In 2020, Vulliamy was made an Honorary Fellow of Goldsmiths' College, University of London. Accepting the fellowship, he called in "one of the great honours of my life", and urged media and journalism students to "get out there and give them hell".


Vulliamy was awarded most major prizes in British journalism for his coverage of the war in Bosnia and work on organised crime. Among his awards for newspaper reporting are: Granada Television's What The Papers Say Foreign Correspondent of the Year', 1992; British Press Awards International Reporter of the Year, 1992 and 1997; Amnesty International Media award 1992; and the James Cameron Award in 1994. In January 2020, Ed gave an inspirational Acceptance address to Graduates of Goldsmiths College, London, on receiving an Honorary Doctorate. He expressed his wish to be an active Alumni to a most appreciative audience.

Personal life[edit]

Vulliamy has two daughters, Elsa Madeleine and Claudia Lucy.[7]


  • Ed Vulliamy, Seasons in Hell: Understanding Bosnia's War, St Martins Press (New York, 1994). ISBN 978-0-312-11378-0
  • David Leigh and Ed Vulliamy, Sleaze: The Corruption of Parliament, Fourth Estate (London, 1997). ISBN 978-1-85702-694-8
  • Ed Vulliamy, Amexica: War Along the Borderline, Bodley Head (London, 2010). ISBN 978-1-84792-128-4; Farrar, Straus and Giroux (New York 2010) ISBN 978-0-374-10441-2
  • Ed Vulliamy, The War is Dead, Long Live the War: Bosnia: the Reckoning, Bodley Head (London, 19 April 2012). ISBN 978-1-84792-194-9
  • Michael Jacobs and Ed Vulliamy, "Everything is Happening: Journey into a Painting". Granta, London, 2014.
  • Ed Vulliamy, When Words Fail: A Life with Music, War and Peace, Granta Books, London, 2018 ISBN 9781783783366


  1. ^ a b c d "Private Passions: Ed Vulliamy". BBC. 2018. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  2. ^ Tanner, Marcus (30 November 2017). "UK's Vulliamy Recalls Encounters with Belligerent Praljak". Balkan Insight. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  3. ^ http://aje.io/avkd
  4. ^ "About Ed Vulliamy". openDemocracy. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  5. ^ Ed Vulliamy. "How Comrade Ilizarov saved my leg". The Observer. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  6. ^ Mowbray, Nicole (24 September 2019). "How my work mistake caused an 'international incident'". The Irish Times. Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  7. ^ https://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/media-families-12-the-saunders-the-vulliamys-1259897.html

External links[edit]