Peter Oborne

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Peter Alan Oborne
Personal details
Born (1957-07-11) 11 July 1957 (age 59)
Poole, Dorset, England, UK
Nationality British
Residence United Kingdom
Alma mater Christ's College, Cambridge
Profession Journalist

Peter Alan Oborne (/ˈ.bɔːn/; born 11 July 1957) is a British journalist. He is the associate editor of the Spectator and former chief political commentator of the Daily Telegraph, from which he resigned in early 2015.[1] He is author of The Rise of Political Lying and The Triumph of the Political Class, and, with Frances Weaver, the pamphlet Guilty Men.

Oborne is known for his acerbic commentary on the hypocrisy and apparent mendacity of contemporary politicians.[2][3]


Oborne was educated at Sherborne School and read history at Christ's College, Cambridge, graduating with a BA[4] degree in 1978.

He is the author of a highly critical biography of Tony Blair's former spin doctor Alastair Campbell and a biography of the cricketer Basil D'Oliveira (whose selection for England to tour South Africa in 1968 caused that country's apartheid regime to cancel the tour). Oborne is also a vocal critic of the Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe. and author of a pamphlet, published by the Centre for Policy Studies about the situation in Zimbabwe, A moral duty to act there.[5]

As a television journalist Oborne began by making three polemical documentaries with filmmaker Paul Yule: "Mugabe's Secret Famine" (2003), "Afghanistan – Here's One We Invaded Earlier" (2004), and "Not Cricket – The Basil D'Oliveira Conspiracy" (2004). In April 2005 he presented the Channel 4 programme in the Election Unspun[6] series, Why Politicians Can't Tell The Truth,[7] that examined how major political parties in Britain allegedly pursue an agenda designed to appeal only to a narrow band of floating voters expected to play a decisive role in the UK general elections of 2005. In May 2007 Oborne presented a Dispatches programme on Channel 4 called Gordon Brown: Fit for Office?[8]

In June 2005, Oborne wrote an article for London's Evening Standard entitled "Why the US is now our great enemy".[9] In the article Oborne argued that, although he and his generation were brought up to love the US, the country nevertheless represented the greatest threat to world civilisation, in particular as a result of its stance on global warming.

In April 2006 it was announced that Oborne was taking up a new position at the Daily Mail as a political columnist, while retaining his connection with The Spectator as a contributing editor. Fraser Nelson of The Scotsman replaced Oborne as The Spectator's political editor.

In July 2008, Oborne presented another Dispatches programme made for Channel 4 called It Shouldn't Happen to a Muslim.[10] In this film and the accompanying leaflet Muslims Under Siege[11] co-written with television journalist James Jones, it was argued that the demonisation of Muslims has become widespread in British media and politics. The pamphlet was serialised in The Independent[12] and prompted heated debate in the following weeks.

In 2009 Oborne contributed to Charlie Brooker's Newswipe on BBC Four. Most of a segment, which discussed cross-party collusion and corruption, had to be dropped owing to its potentially libellous content. Oborne was on the Orwell Prize's Journalism shortlist for 2009.[13]

Again in collaboration with James Jones, Oborne wrote the pamphlet "The Pro-Israel Lobby In Britain",[14] which outlined the influence allegedly enjoyed by pro-Israeli media and politics lobbyists in the United Kingdom. The article asserted that while the lobbying efforts of groups such as Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), Labour Friends of Israel, and the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) are legal, their funding is often untraceable, their operations are not transparent, and media seldom declare the influence of junkets arranged by these pro-Israeli entities on the tenor of their writing. Oborne and Jones conclude that changes are needed "because politics in a democracy should never take place behind closed doors. It should be out in the open and there for all to see." On this issue, Oborne wrote and presented an edition of Dispatches titled "Inside Britain's Israel Lobby".[15] In December 2012, he argued that the Conservative's unwillingness to criticise the Israeli government threatens the prospect of a permanent peace in the region.[16]

In collaboration with Conservative Member of Parliament Jesse Norman, Oborne produced the pamphlet Churchill's Legacy – the Conservative case for the Human Rights Act in the summer of 2009. Published by Liberty, the pamphlet attempted to show how "the Act is not a charter for socialism but contains the most basic rights from 900 years of British history".[17]

In September 2011, Oborne and Frances Weaver co-authored the pamphlet "Guilty Men" for the Centre for Policy Studies.[18] The report sought to identify the politicians, institutions and commentators who the authors felt had tried to take Britain into the European Single Currency and claimed to expose the "often unscrupulous and vicious personal attacks" carried out by supporters of the euro. Oborne in particular identified William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith and Lord Owen as three voices of opposition to early euro entry who suffered such personal attacks.

Oborne was lambasted for his frank public comments in the edition of 28 September 2011 of the BBC programme Newsnight. In the debate about the crisis of sovereign debt in the eurozone, he referred on several occasions to Amadeu Altafaj Tardio as "that idiot in Brussels", which eventually resulted in Tardio's walking out of the studio. (Tardio, spokesman for European Union economic and monetary affairs commissioner Olli Rehn, was speaking from a studio in Brussels.) Oborne was "chided" by Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman for "gratuituous rudeness" after Paxman had himself asked for a response from, "Mr Idiot in Brussels".[19][20]

On 10 May 2012 on BBC Question Time, Oborne commented following the jailing of a Rochdale sex trafficking gang, who had been convicted of rape, sexual activity with children and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with children having raped, physically assaulted and sexually groomed girls as young as 12. Oborne said the victims had "accepted the advances" of their attackers and added: "What does it tell us about what's happened to our society that we have 12 year old girls, 13 year old girls, who are happy to give up their affection and their beauty to men in exchange for a packet of crisps?"[21] Some, such as Vicky Allan of The Herald, have claimed that this type of rhetoric amounts to victim blaming, saying that: "there is a prevalent conviction that young girls are somehow asking for whatever they get as soon as they begin to behave in a sexual manner, or choose to involve themselves with men".[22]

In August 2014, Oborne was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue.[23]

In February 2015, Oborne wrote an article for The Spectator, arguing that the Labour leader Ed Miliband had been a consistent and strong leader of the Opposition. In particular, he stated that, like Margaret Thatcher, Miliband has forged his own course, changing the terms of the debate on big business, foreign policy, Israel-Palestine and the power of the Murdoch press.[24]

In July 2015, BBC Radio 4 broadcast a report by Oborne in which he and producer Anna Meisel investigated the closure a year earlier of HSBC bank accounts belonging to British Muslim institutions and individuals.[25] He had originally begun his investigation whilst working for The Daily Telegraph but the newspaper had refused to publish the resultant article, which had been critical of the bank’s decision, triggering his decision to resign.[26]

Resignation from The Daily Telegraph[edit]

On 17 February 2015 Oborne resigned from The Daily Telegraph. In a strongly worded letter posted to the online news website, openDemocracy, Oborne criticised his former employer for the allegedly unscrupulous relationship between their editorial and commercial arms. Specifically, Oborne outlined how the paper would suppress negative stories and drop investigations into the HSBC bank, a major source of their advertising revenue, which, in his opinion, compromised their journalistic integrity calling it a "form of fraud on its readers".[27][28] He also alleged that The Telegraph's coverage of stories relating to UK supermarket chain Tesco, shipping company Cunard and the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong had been influenced by commercial considerations,[27] He added, "There are other very troubling cases, many of them set out in Private Eye, which has been a major source of information for Telegraph journalists wanting to understand what is happening on their paper".[27]

The Telegraph group responded to Oborne's claims in a statement: "We aim to provide all our commercial partners with a range of advertising solutions, but the distinction between advertising and our award-winning editorial operation has always been fundamental to our business. We utterly refute [sic] any allegation to the contrary."[1][29]

On 30 June 2015 it was announced that Oborne would rejoin the Daily Mail with a weekly political column starting in the autumn and write a weekly column in Middle East Eye.[30][31]

In 2015, Oborne stated that he was backing Jeremy Corbyn despite holding significantly different political views.[32]


Written with David Morrison, Oborne's book A Dangerous Delusion: Why the Iranian Nuclear Threat is a Myth (2013) sought to dispel what the authors see as a common misconception of a malign intent behind Iran's nuclear power programme, and objects to the current sanctions against Iran and argues against any military intervention.[33] Times leader writer Oliver Kamm took the authors to task for asserting that Ayatollah Khomeini was "one of the greatest theologians of all time" whose "teaching contained insights which went far deeper than anything the rationalists and materialists of the United States could imagine."[34] Of a podcast involving the authors, Douglas Murray asserted that Morrison, with the acquiescence of Oborne, made disingenuous claims about President Ahmadinejad's history of Holocaust denial.[35]

Oborne, responding to his critics in an article for The Spectator's 'Coffee House' blog, complained of the "scale and (in some cases) virulence that I have never encountered before" of his and Morrison's opponents. He rejected Kamm and Murray's claims about his co-author, who "fully accepts" the veracity of claims against Ahmadinejad. Oborne wrote that "not one of our critics have even tried to deal with the central, factual points of our short book: that Iran isn’t in possession of nuclear weapons and isn’t building them".[36] Michael Axworthy thought that "For the most part, Oborne and Morrison are right and their arguments are strong.",[33] but Douglas Murray, after quoting Oborne's comment in a response, wrote that "customers should ask for a refund".[37] A review by Con Coughlin for The Jewish Chronicle speculated that Oborne's "unhappy descent into the world of international fantasy" owed much to his association with Morrison, and accused "the authors" of "alarming ignorance about the rudimentary principles that underpin the current Iranian regime" and reports from intelligence sources and the International Atomic Energy Agency.[38]

Awards and honours[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Oborne describes himself as a "regular Anglican churchgoer",[41] and his wife, Martine, is Vicar at St. Michael's Sutton Court in Chiswick, west London.


  • Alastair Campbell: New Labour and the Rise of the Media Class. Aurum, 1999. ISBN 978-1-85410-647-6
  • A moral duty to act there. Centre for Policy Studies, 2003. ISBN 978-1-903219-51-5
  • The Rise of Political Lying. Free Press, 2005. ISBN 978-0-7432-7560-6
  • Basil D'Oliveira: Cricket and Conspiracy: The Untold Story. Time Warner, 2005. ISBN 978-0-7515-3488-7
  • The Triumph of the Political Class. Simon and Schuster, 2007. ISBN 978-0-7432-9527-7
  • Muslims Under Siege; Alienating Vulnerable Communities (Co-written with James Jones). Channel 4 Dispatches & Democratic Audit, Human Rights Centre, University of Essex, 2008
  • The Use and Abuse of Terror; The Construction of a False Narrative on Domestic Terror Threat. Centre for Policy Studies, 2006. ISBN 1-905389-22-1
  • The Pro-Israel Lobby in Britain (Co-written with James Jones). Channel 4 Dispatches & Open Democracy, 2009
  • The Children that Britain Betrayed. (Co-written with Lynn Ferguson) Channel 4 Dispatches,
  • Guilty Men. (Co-written with Frances Weaver) Centre for Policy Studies, 2011
  • Churchill's Legacy: The Conservative Case for the Human Rights Act. (Co-written with Jesse Norman) Liberty, 2009. ISBN 978-0-946088-56-0
  • A Dangerous Delusion: Why the West are wrong about Nuclear Iran. (Co-written with David Morrison). Elliott & Thompson, 2013. ISBN 978-1-908739-89-6
  • Wounded Tiger: The History of Cricket in Pakistan. Simon and Schuster, 2014. ISBN 9781471125775
  • White on Green: Celebrating the Drama of Pakistan Cricket. (Co-written with Richard Heller) Simon and Schuster, 2016. ISBN 978-1471156410


  • Mugabe's Secret Famine (Channel 4, May 2003, produced by Paul Yule, Juniper TV)
  • Afghanistan: Here's One We Invaded Earlier (Channel 4, May 2003, produced by Paul Yule, Juniper TV)
  • Not Cricket: The Basil D'Oliveira Conspiracy (Channel 4, June 2004, produced by Paul Yule, Diverse Production)
  • The Dirty Race for the White House (Channel 4, November 2004, produced by Ed Braman, Juniper TV)
  • We’re All Criminals Now (Channel 4, January 2005, produced by Zoe Hassid, Mentorn in association with Raw TV)
  • Election Unspun: Why Politicians Can't Tell The Truth (Channel 4, April 2005, produced by Richard Sanders, Juniper TV)
  • Dispatches: Gordon Brown - Fit for Office? (Channel 4, May 2007, directed by Simon Berthon)
  • Dispatches: Iraq – the Betrayal (Channel 4, March 2008, produced by Marc Perkins, October Films)
  • Dispatches: It Shouldn't Happen to a Muslim (Channel 4, July 2008, produced by Chris Boulding, Quicksilver Media)
  • Dispatches: Iraq – the Legacy (Channel 4, December 2008, Richard Sanders, October Films)
  • Afghanistan: Waiting for the Taliban (Channel 4, May 2009, produced by Alex Nott, Quicksilver Media)
  • Philippines: Holy Warriors (Channel 4, October 2009, produced by George Waldrum, Quicksilver Media)
  • Dispatches: Iraq – the Reckoning (Channel 4, July 2009, directed by James Brabazon, Juniper TV)
  • Dispatches: The Children Britain Betrayed (Channel 4, July 2009, produced by Lynn Ferguson, First Frame TV)
  • Dispatches: Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby (Channel 4, November 2009, Produced by Ed Harriman, Hardcash Productions)
  • Conserving What? (Radio 4, October 2009, produced by Sheila Cook)
  • Nigeria’s Killing Fields (Channel 4, April 2010, produced by Andy Wells, Quicksilver Media)
  • Tabloids, Tories and Telephone Hacking (Channel 4, October 2010, produced by Sally Brindle and Jenny Evans, Blakeway Productions)
  • Pakistan: After the Floods (Channel 4, November 2010, directed by Simon Phillips, Quicksilver Media)
  • Pakistan: Defenders of Karachi (Channel 4, April 2011, directed by Edward Watts, Quicksilver Media)
  • Dispatches: The Wonderful World of Tony Blair (Channel 4, September 2011, directed by James Brabazon, Blast!)
  • Libya: My Week with Gunmen (Channel 4, June 2012, directed by Richard Cookson, Quicksilver Media)
  • HSBC, Muslims and Me (BBC Radio 4, July 2015, produced by Anna Meisel)
  • Peter Oborne's Chilcot Report (BBC Radio 4, October 2015, produced by Hannah Barnes)
  • Al Qaeda in Syria (BBC Radio 4, December 2015, produced by Joe Kent)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b John Plunkett "Peter Oborne resigns, saying Telegraph's HSBC coverage a 'fraud on readers'", The Guardian, 17 February 2015
  2. ^ Nick Cohen (website). Dishonourable members The Observer. 30 September 2007
  3. ^ Oborne, P. Speaking truth in power. The Guardian. 4 March 2009
  4. ^ A Cambridge BA automatically converts to an MA (Master of Arts) as long as certain conditions are satisfied
  5. ^ Oborne, P. Appendix 8: Memorandum from Mr Peter Oborne. Submission to the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs. March 2003
  6. ^ Channel 4 aims to 'unspin' the election. Digital Spy. 9 April 2005
  7. ^ Banks-Smith, N. Once were warriors, The Guardian, 26 April 2005
  8. ^ Gordon Brown: Fit for Office? Channel 4. 14 May 2007
  9. ^ Oborne, P. Why the US is now our great enemy. Evening Standard. 20 June 2005 via the Questia Online Library
  10. ^ Oborne, P. It Shouldn't Happen to a Muslim. Channel 4. 7 July 2008
  11. ^ Oborne, P., Jones, J. Muslims Under Siege
  12. ^ Oborne, P."The enemy within? Fear of Islam: Britain's new disease",. 4 July 2008
  13. ^ Owen Amos "Shortlists announced for Orwell Prize for political writing", Press Gazette, 26 March 2009
  14. ^ Oborn, Peter; Jones, James. "The pro-Israel lobby in Britain: full text", openDemocracy (13 November 2009). Accessed 24 January 2016
  15. ^ "dispatches – inside Britain's Israel Lobby". YouTube. 20 February 2011. Retrieved 4 April 2012. 
  16. ^ Peter Oborne "The cowardice at the heart of our relationship with Israel", Daily Telegraph, 12 December 2012
  17. ^ Churchill's Legacy - the Conservative Case for the HRA (PDF) (Report). October 2009. ISBN 978-0-946088-56-0. 
  18. ^ "Centre for Policy Studies – Guilty Men". 22 September 2011. Retrieved 29 November 2012. 
  19. ^ Marsh, Geoff (29 September 2011). "Newsnight farce: Eurocrat storms off live TV after Paxman calls him an idiot". Daily Express. Retrieved 3 October 2011. We can't even hold him to account now because you've been gratuitously offensive to him. 
  20. ^ Preston, Peter (2 October 2011). "Another burst of Newsnight for idiots". The Observer. London: Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 4 October 2011. Peter Oborne's grisly outburst plumbed the depths of cheap studio discussions 
  21. ^ BBC Question Time, 10 May 2012.
  22. ^ Allan, Vicky (30 September 2012). "Why turn a blind eye to child abuse?". The Herald. Retrieved 20 February 2016. 
  23. ^ "Celebrities' open letter to Scotland – full text and list of signatories". The Guardian. London. 7 August 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  24. ^ "Ed Miliband's Critics Hate Him for His Success", The Spectator, 14 February 2015
  25. ^ Oborne, Peter; Meisel, Anna (28 July 2015). "Why did HSBC shut down bank accounts?". BBC News Online. Retrieved 28 July 2015. 
  26. ^ Presenter: Peter Oborne Producer: Anna Meisel (28 July 2015). "HSBC, Muslims and Me". HSBC, Muslims and Me. BBC Radio 4. 
  27. ^ a b c Oborne, Peter (17 February 2015). "Why I have resigned from the Telegraph". Open Democracy. Retrieved 17 February 2015. 
  28. ^ "Daily Telegraph's Peter Oborne resigns over HSBC coverage". BBC News. 17 February 2015. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  29. ^ Adam Sherwin "Peter Oborne resignation: Senior writer dramatically quits Telegraph over HSBC allegations", The Independent (London), 17 February 2015
  30. ^ Sean Smith, Jane Martinson and Jasper Jackson (June 30, 2015). "Peter Oborne returns to Daily Mail". The Guardian. Retrieved August 12, 2015. 
  31. ^ "Peter Oborne's Articles". Middle East Eye. Retrieved August 12, 2015. 
  32. ^
  33. ^ a b Michael Axworthy "A Dangerous Delusion, by Peter Oborne and David Morrison",, 27 April 2013
  34. ^ Peter Oborne & David Morrison A Dangerous Delusion: Why the West is Wrong about Nuclear Iran, Elliott & Thompson, 2013, pp.19-20, cited by Oliver Kamm "Khomeini or Thomas Jefferson? Who did more for religious freedom?", The Times (Opinion blog), 24 April 2013
  35. ^ Douglas Murray "Memo to Iran’s apologists: President Ahmadinejad has denied the Holocaust", The Spectator, 26 April 2013
  36. ^ Peter Oborne "No, Iran does not possess nuclear weapons", The Spectator (Coffe House blog), 1 May 2013
  37. ^ Douglas Murray "In response to Peter Oborne on nuclear Iran", The Spectator (blogs), 2 May 2013
  38. ^ Con Coughlin "There’s delusion and 'delusion' when it comes to Iran", The Jewish Chronicle, 10 May 2013
  39. ^ "Book on D'Oliveira wins award". BBC News. 29 November 2004. Retrieved 26 November 2012. 
  40. ^ "Prior winners". British Sports Book Awards. Retrieved 27 November 2012. 
  41. ^ "The bishop who sneered at Prince William and Kate Middleton should resign". The Daily Telegraph. London. 22 November 2010. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Tom Bower
William Hill Sports Book of the Year winner
Succeeded by
Gary Imlach