Meirion Jones

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Meirion Jones
QED 20161016 705.jpg
Meirion Jones speaking at QEDcon, Manchester, October 2016
Occupation Investigative journalist

Meirion Jones is a British journalist. He worked for the BBC until 2015. In July 2016 he became Investigations Editor at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.[1]

Jones has investigated many subjects including the alleged fixing of the US Presidential Election in 2000, toxic waste dumping in Africa, how Britain helped Israel’s nuclear weapons programme, market-rigging by multinationals, bogus bomb detectors, tsunami aid,[2] terror and security,[3] political scandals[4][5] and financial scams.[6] He also worked with journalist Liz MacKean in late 2011 on a Newsnight investigation into the activities of suspected pedophile Jimmy Savile. Its rejection by their superior, (former) Newsnight editor Peter Rippon, ultimately led to a major scandal.

Early career[edit]

Jones was the first full-time Editor of the Cardiff student paper Gair Rhydd. He once broke in the principal's office to copy and expose files about an Iraqi henchman. As a sanction, he lost his Honorary Lifetime Membership that all students automatically get.[7] He freelanced at New Scientist where he wrote about everything from food poisoning to how to phase out the CFCs which at the time were damaging the ozone layer.[8][9] He has also written freelance for The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph and The Independent.[citation needed]

Career[edit]

Jones and Greg Palast revealed how many black voters in Florida had been barred from voting in the 2000 election[10] by a purge of the Florida Central Voter File. Jones and Palast have been working together since 1998 and have made more than a dozen investigative films on subjects such as oil and the war in Iraq, the Bin Laden family, the Bush family, the coup against Chavez, and vulture funds.

In 2005-6, Jones made three films with Michael Crick on nuclear weapons and Israel which revealed for the first time how Britain had helped Israel's nuclear weapons programme. Papers obtained through Freedom of Information showed how the UK had secretly exported the heavy water to Israel to start up the Dimona nuclear reactor and had supplied Israel with samples of uranium 235, plutonium and lithium 6.[11] Jones wrote a print version of the revelations which New Statesman ran as their cover story.[12] In September 2016, Jones and Israeli nuclear historian Avner Cohen wrote a piece for Haaretz revealing that there had been an investigation into 1960s British nuclear weapons chief Nyman Levin.[13]

Jones lecturing at QED 2016 about the fake bomb detector ADE 651 that he helped expose.

On 22 January 2010 the British government announced that it would ban the export of "magic wand" type bomb detectors to Iraq and Afghanistan because of the danger to British and allied troops.[14] The ban on the ADE651, GT200, Alpha 6 and similar products was the result of an investigation by Jones and the BBC's then Baghdad correspondent Caroline Hawley broadcast that day which showed that the detectors did not and could not work.[15][16] British businessman Jim McCormick sold $85 million of the bogus detectors to Iraq before the ban. The Inspector General of the Iraqi Interior Ministry told the BBC that hundreds of civilians in Baghdad had died as a result of because suicide bombers were able to smuggle explosives past checkpoints equipped with the bogus devices.[17] On 23 April 2013, McCormick, was convicted of three counts of fraud involving the ADE651 at the Old Bailey in London,and was subsequently sentenced to ten years' imprisonment.[18] The owner of the company which made the GT200, Gary Bolton, who sold thousands of the devices in Mexico Thailand and other countries was also convicted on 26 July 2013 on two charges of fraud and subsequently jailed for seven years.[19][20]

Since 2007, Jones and Greg Palast have been investigating Vulture fund operations, which attempt to divert into their own pockets the money given by Western governments to pay off the debts of poor countries. These films formed the centerpiece of a campaign backed by Oxfam and the Jubilee Debt Campaign to outlaw this practice through a Debt Relief Bill. The first film in 2007 exposed an American vulture who liked to call himself «Goldfinger» who was suing Zambia.[21] It was rebroadcast in the USA and seen by two Congressmen who immediately went to the White House and asked President Bush face-to-face to curb the vulture funds.[22]

Beginning in 2009, Jones made a series of films over three years exposing how toxic waste from the oil trader Trafigura came to be illegally dumped in Abidjan in Africa rather than safely disposed of in the Netherlands.[23] According to the government of Ivory Coast 16 people died and thousands were poisoned by the waste. The films were made in the face of pressure from Trafigura's lawyers Carter-Ruck who were attempting to close down press coverage of Trafigura's role in the scandal. Ultimately Carter-Ruck even attempted to use a super-injunction to stop The Guardian reporting mentions of Trafigura in Parliament. In response to the pressure Jones set up a network of international journalists and investigators to share information on the dumping, informally known as "Team Trafigura".[24] In April 2010 the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists gave the Daniel Pearl Award for Outstanding International Investigative Reporting to the members of that team for exposing "how a powerful offshore oil trader tried to cover up the poisoning of 30,000 West Africans".[25]

On 15 October 2010, the multi-national Reckitt Benckiser was fined £10 million for rigging the market for Gaviscon following an investigation by Jones and Martin Shankleman.[26]

Immediately after Jimmy Savile's death in October 2011, Jones and his colleague Liz MacKean began an investigation for Newsnight into Savile's apparent history of abuse and that he had been a paedophile. They interviewed one victim on camera and others agreed to have their stories told anonymously. Jones and MacKean discovered that Surrey police had investigated allegations of abuse against Savile. The programme was scheduled for broadcast on 7 December 2011 but the film was never shown and the BBC broadcast tributes to Savile at Christmas 2011. The decision to pull the Newsnight investigation eventually led to a major crisis in public trust of the BBC. The later Pollard Review found that Jones and MacKean had found cogent evidence that Savile was an abuser and that the programme could have exposed Savile in 2011 but a flawed decision was made not to broadcast[27] There was no public mention of the Newsnight investigation into Savile at the time but In early 2012, several newspapers reported that BBC had investigated allegations of sexual abuse immediately after Savile's death, but the report was not broadcast. An article by Miles Goslett in The Oldie alleged there had been a cover-up by the BBC.[28]

In 2014, Jones was the joint producer with Owen Phillips of the Panorama about the ex-News of the World undercover reporter Mazher Mahmood called “Fake Sheikh: Exposed”[29] which starting from the case of Tulisa Contostavlos alleged that many of Mazher Mahmood's investigations had been dishonest. The broadcast was twice delayed and was finally transmitted on 12 November 2014. Following the programme the Crown Prosecution Service announced that they would reinvestigate 25 cases where people were convicted on Mahmood’s evidence.[30][31] Mazher Mahmood was convicted in October 2016 of conspiring to pervert the course of justice in the Tulisa Contostavlos case and sentenced to 15 months in prison.[32]

In July 2016, Jones became Investigations Editor at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.[1]

Awards[edit]

  • 2013: the London Press Awards Scoop of the Year prize for his part in the investigation into Jimmy Savile
  • 2010: Daniel Pearl Award (International Consortium of Investigative Journalists) for his investigation of the dumping of Trafigura's toxic waste in Africa.[25]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Bureau appoints Meirion Jones as Investigations Editor". 8 June 2016. 
  2. ^ Jones, Meirion (19 December 2006). "Programmes | Newsnight Home | Tsunami funds languish in banks". BBC News. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  3. ^ Hope, Christopher; Millward, David (8 May 2008). "Foreign criminals work at airports unchecked". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  4. ^ George Jones 27 October 2005 (27 October 2005). "Blunkett in new row over sons' shares in DNA testing firm". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  5. ^ "Login". 
  6. ^ Jones, Meirion (1 December 2006). "Undercover actor exposes 'Aids cure'". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  7. ^ A brief history of Gair Rhydd: 1972-2009, Gair Rhydd on Issuu.com, 8 June 2009
  8. ^ [1] Hospital caterers 'could cause listeriosis epidemic' New Scientist 21 July 1988
  9. ^ [2] In search of the safe CFCs New Scientist 26 May 1988
  10. ^ "NEWSNIGHT | Greg Palast on the Florida Elections – 16/2/01". BBC News. 16 February 2001. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  11. ^ Jones, Meirion (10 March 2006). "Programmes | Newsnight | Secret sale of UK plutonium to Israel". BBC News. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  12. ^ Jones, Meirion (13 March 2006). "Britain's dirty secret". New Statesman. 
  13. ^ Cohen, Avner (24 September 2016). "The sudden death of U.K.'s nuke chief, suspected of spying for Israel's A-bomb program" – via Haaretz. 
  14. ^ "Newsnight – Government statement on 'bomb detectors' export ban". BBC News. 22 January 2010. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  15. ^ Hawley, Caroline (22 January 2010). "Newsnight – Export ban for useless 'bomb detector'". BBC News. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  16. ^ Blake, Heidi (23 January 2010). "British firms banned from exporting faulty bomb detectors to Iraq and Afghanistan". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  17. ^ http://www.ny.com/2009/11/04/world/middleeast/04sensors.html[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ Booth, Robert (2 May 2013). "Fake bomb detector conman jailed for 10 years". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  19. ^ "Gary Bolton guilty of selling fake bomb detectors". BBC News. 26 July 2013. Retrieved 26 July 2013. 
  20. ^ McDermott, Kerry (20 August 2013). "Businessman who sold 'useless' £5 fake bomb detectors for £10,000 has been jailed for seven years for fraud". Daily Mail. London. 
  21. ^ Meirion Jones (14 February 2007). "Programmes | Newsnight | 'Vulture funds' threat to developing world". BBC News. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  22. ^ "Citing Democracy Now!/BBC Broadcast, Rep. John Conyers Confronts Bush and Demands Investigation of Vulture Funds". Democracy Now!. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  23. ^ "Newsnight – Trafigura knew of waste dangers". BBC News. 16 September 2009. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  24. ^ David Leigh (21 September 2009). "Investigative teamwork pays off over Trafigura scoop | Media". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  25. ^ a b "entry – news and investigations | The Center for Public Integrity". Publicintegrity.org. 13 February 2013. Archived from the original on 7 September 2010. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  26. ^ Jones, Meirion (7 March 2008). "Programmes | Newsnight | Gaviscon maker 'cheated the NHS'". BBC News. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  27. ^ Plunkett, John (19 December 2012). "Newsnight's Jimmy Savile story: key points from the Pollard report" – via The Guardian. 
  28. ^ Singh, Anita (10 February 2012). "BBC 'buried Savile sex abuse claims to save its reputation'". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  29. ^ Jane Martinson (13 November 2014). "BBC hopes 'textbook' investigation into 'fake sheikh' heralds fresh start". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 December 2014. 
  30. ^ Amanda Williams (4 December 2014). "CPS to probe 25 criminal convictions involving evidence from 'Fake Sheikh' reporter Mazher Mahmood after judge accused him of lying in Tulisa drugs trial". Daily Mail. Retrieved 7 December 2014. 
  31. ^ Roy Greenslade (4 December 2014). "Why I applaud the CPS inquiry into Mazher Mahmood's stories". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 December 2014. 
  32. ^ Caroline Davies (21 October 2016). "Mazher Mahmood: 'Fake Sheikh' jailed for 15 months". The Guardian. 

External links[edit]