Phillip Knightley

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Phillip Knightley (born 23 January 1929 in Sydney) is an Australian journalist, critic, and non-fiction author. He is currently a visiting Professor of Journalism at the University of Lincoln, England, and a media commentator on the intelligence services and propaganda.


He began his career in 1946 as a copyboy with the Sydney Daily Telegraph. Two years as a cadet reporter with The Northern Star (Lismore) followed. He then temporarily left journalism to become a copra trader in Fiji before joining the Oceania Daily News (Suva), which prided itself as being the "First Paper Published in the World Today" because of Suva's proximity to the International Dateline.

Knightley returned to Australia and worked for The Herald in Melbourne. He returned to Sydney in 1952 joining the city's Daily Mirror and covered Elizabeth II's visit to Australia in 1953/54. He left for London in November 1954 as foreign correspondent for the Daily Mirror, and then went to India as managing editor of the Bombay (Mumbai) literary magazine, Imprint.

Migrating to the UK in 1965, he became a special correspondent for the London Sunday Times, remaining there until 1985. During this time he was a member of the 'Insight' investigative team.

Since leaving The Sunday Times, he has contributed literary criticism to the Mail on Sunday (London), The Independent (London), The Australian 's Review of Books, The Age (Melbourne), and the New York Review of Books.

He has lectured on journalism, law, and war at the Australian National Press Club in Canberra, the Australian Senate, City University, London, University of Manchester, Pennsylvania State University, University of California Los Angeles, Stanford University, the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, the Inner Temple, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and to the University of Düsseldorf.

Knightley's main professional interests have been war reporting, propaganda, and espionage. In more than 30 years of writing about espionage, he has met most of the spy chiefs of all the major intelligence services in the world, and interviewed numerous officers and agents from all sides during the Cold War and since. In December 2010, he received media coverage for acting as a bail sureties provider for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.[1] Having backed Assange by pledging bail in December 2010, Knightley lost the money in June 2012 when a judge ordered it to be forfeited, as Assange had sought to escape the jurisdiction of the English courts by entering the embassy of Ecuador.[2]

In 1997, Knightley was a judge for Canada's Lionel Gelber Prize, which honours the world's best book on international relations. He is the European representative on the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and patron of the C.W. Bean Foundation in Canberra. He was made a member of the Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday Honours list in June 2005, for "services to journalism and as an author".

Knightley is married with two daughters called Aliya and Marisa, a son called Kim and two granddaughters. He lives between London, Sydney and Goa in India.

Awards and honours[edit]

  • 1980, 1988 – British Press Awards Journalist of the Year – one of only two journalists to have won the honour twice
  • 1982 – British Colour Magazine Writer of the Year
  • 1983 – British Chef and Brewer Crime Writer's award – for his investigation into a murder case in Italy
  • 1980 – Granada Television Reporter of the Year
  • 1975 – Overseas Press Club of America Award for The First Casualty as the best book on foreign affairs.
  • 2006 – City University, London, Artes Doctor Honoris Causa (Honorary Doctor of Arts) for Services to Journalism and Authorship.
  • 2007 – University of Sydney, Australia, Doctor Honoris Causa (Honorary Doctor of Letters) for Services to Journalism and Authorship.



External links[edit]