Articles

Article: The Language of Secrets

The Guardian Saturday, January 18, 2014 We’ve not had the words to talk about our security services. Dishfire, Prism: we’re now learning some What we have no words for we cannot discuss except crudely. The latest revelation about the security services brings a new word to our growing vocabulary: Dishfire. This week’s expose reveals the […]

Article: Anger at the Ballot Box

The Guardian Saturday, December 28, 2013 We live in the digital age but our politics is still analogue. No wonder voters are disillusioned Politics matters. It always has and always will. It has always been a sham to say that voters not voting is due to disinterest or boredom. Yesterday’s Guardian/ICM poll explains exactly what […]

Article: Government changes would kill FOI in Britain

Recently the Government published its response to Parliament’s post-legislative scrutiny of the Freedom of Information Act. I wrote a response to this in the Sunday Times. The Sunday Times, 24 December 2012 The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has always sat uncomfortably with the British government. Britain was one of the last western democracies to […]

Article: Leveson fallout

Pressing Matters House Magazine, 6 December 2012 (Download the PDF) It is deeply disturbing to read Brian Leveson’s recommendations on regulating the press at a time when police and security services are trying to legalise the broadest surveillance powers yet on ordinary citizens. The Leveson Inquiry was “sparked by public revulsion about a single action […]

Article: State Spying needs to be shown the back door

This is a slightly longer version of an article I wrote for The Times last week about the UK Government’s proposal for industrial internet surveillance: the ‘snooper’s charter’. The following day, the Government announced it would NOT be putting the bill forward in the Queen’s speech but it still remains very much a live issue. […]

Article: The Future of Investigative Journalism

The Lords Communications Committee report, “The Future of Investigative Journalism”, (HL: 263 – pdf) was published 16 February and I’ve written an article in response for House magazine. Report Review March 1, 2012, The House ‘The starting point for this inquiry, as already mentioned, has been that responsible investigative journalism should be protected and encouraged, […]

Article: Accused leaker Bradley Manning in court

In its punitive treatment of accused leaker Bradley Manning, the US government has missed an opportunity to live up to its values of freedom, says Heather Brooke After 18 months, accused leaker gets a day in court Index on Censorship, 16 Dec 2011 After nearly 18 months’ incarceration and punitive treatment described as “torture” by […]

Article: US Govt secretly snoops on your email

How the US government secretly reads your email The Guardian, 11/12 October 2011 Secret orders forcing Google and Sonic to release a WikiLeaks volunteer’s email reveal the scale of US government snooping Somewhere, a US government official is reading through a list of those who sent or received an email from Jacob Appelbaum, a 28-year-old […]

Article: Journalism’s unique selling point is the public interest

As Lord Justice Leveson prepares to investigate newspaper conduct, I joined three other writers to discuss ‘How far can the press go in the public interest?’ The press will die if it fails in its duty to serve the public interest The Times, 27 September 2011 The ethics of what should or shouldn’t be published […]

Separating the man from the cause

An abbreviated version of this article appeared in today’s (London) Times. The WikiLeaks ‘hero’ is actually morally bankrupt The Times, 23 September 2011 One question I’m often asked about my long investigation into MPs’ expenses is whether I was ever threatened with retribution. The answer is no. The closest I came was John Prescott getting […]

Article: Police attempting to criminalise investigative journalism

Investigative journalism must not be criminalised Guardian, 9/10 September Police questioning of journalists such as the Guardian’s Amelia Hill who seek to uncover corruption is a worrying trend The questioning under caution of the Guardian reporter Amelia Hill by the Metropolitan police is part of a worrying trend: for the police appear to be using […]

Article: Freedom of Information and big business

Freedom of information is for businesses too Guardian, 1/2 September 2011 Is scientific research endangered by Philip Morris’s freedom of information request? Not when we all benefit A request by tobacco giant Philip Morris International to the University of Stirling has reignited concern about the use of freedom of information laws. The data it was […]

Article: Inside the secret world of hackers

As part of my research for ‘The Revolution Will Be Digitised’ I hung out in a lot of hackerspaces and met many hackers. A lot of people think hackers are synonymous with cybercriminals but the real picture is more complex. The full story is in the book but here I pick out a few highlights […]

Article: Publishing in the Digital Revoluion

Writing In The Digital Revolution The Huffington Post, 12 August 2011 By Heather Brooke As the news agenda goes into warp speed, it becomes ever more difficult for authors writing about current events to keep their books timely and relevant. Seismic events race by at almost weekly intervals: phone hacking gives way to the Norwegian […]

Article: Bradley Manning’s health deteriorating

Bradley Manning’s health deteriorating in jail, supporters say Guardian, Thursday 16 December 2010 By Heather Brooke The intelligence analyst suspected of leaking US diplomatic cables is being held in solitary confinement As Julian Assange emerged from his nine-day imprisonment, there were renewed concerns about the physical and psychological health of Bradley Manning, the former US […]

Articles: Vatican revelations in diplomatic cables

Here are a few links to the Vatican articles I worked on (Sorry for delayed posting). Vatican refused to engage with child sex abuse inquiry 11 Dec 2010: Leaked cable lays bare how Irish government was forced to grant Vatican officials immunity from testifying to Murphy commission. Pope wanted Muslim Turkey kept out of EU […]

Article: Wikileaks cables expose Saudi sex parties

WikiLeaks cables: Saudi princes throw parties boasting drink, drugs and sex Guardian, Tuesday 7 December 2010 By Heather Brooke Royals flout puritanical laws to throw parties for young elite while religious police are forced to turn a blind eye In what may prove a particularly incendiary cable, US diplomats describe a world of sex, drugs […]

Article: Profile on Wikileaks suspect Bradley Manning

WikiLeaks cables: Bradley Manning faces 52 years in jail Guardian, 30 November 2010 By Robert Booth, Heather Brooke and Steven Morris Bradley Manning, a US army intelligence analyst, is suspected of leaking more than 250,000 diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks. Bradley Manning will wake up tomorrow, at a military base in Virginia, to his 189th day […]

Article: Prince Andrew – the ‘rude’ Brit abroad

WikiLeaks cables: ‘Rude’ Prince Andrew shocks US ambassador Guardian, 29 November 2010 By David Leigh, Heather Brooke and Rob Evans Duke railed against France, British anti-corruption investigations into BAE and American ignorance, leaked dispatches reveal. Prince Andrew launched a scathing attack on British anticorruption investigators, journalists and the French during an “astonishingly candid” performance at […]

Article: The Revolution will be Digitised

WikiLeaks: The revolution has begun – and it will be digitised Guardian, 29 November 2010 By Heather Brooke The web is changing the way in which people relate to power, and politics will have no choice but to adapt too. Diplomacy has always involved dinners with ruling elites, backroom deals and clandestine meetings. Now, in the […]

Article: The courts are open but justice is a closed book

We are denied even the barest details of what goes on in supposedly public legal proceedings.

Royal appetite for secrecy can only invite scandal

The exemption from scrutiny under Freedom of Information shows the status gap between Crown and public interest.

A sharp focus on CCTV

As the major political parties jostle for position in the run-up to the general election, it’s clear that the way the next government monitors and controls information about us will fundamentally shape British society in the next decades.

Electoral Secrecy

The secrecy and utter lack of accountability surrounding those public officials charged with overseeing UK elections.

Article: Top cops’ pay should not be top secret

Secrecy feeds suspicion of a boys’ club stitch-up. Chief constables need to be open on pay and perks.

It’s our data, make it accessible

The information age may have arrived some decades ago but from the format of yesterday’s publication of MPs’ expenses, Parliament is so last century.

Article: A Prime Minister’s conversion to openness

When it comes to politicians advocating open government the best advice is to ignore what they say and focus on what they do.

Seeing through expenses transparency

Gordon Brown’s reforms may include some much-needed changes to MPs’ expenses, but they don’t go far enough.

Us & Them

The realism of The Wire is due in no small part due to the ability of the writers to get inside the institutions they cover. Could such a show be written in the UK?

Article: Police Bonuses

When only one police force is willing to tell the public what it pays its Chief Constable in bonuses curiosity is piqued. What do they have to hide?

Obama-style activism in Britain

In the US politicians must be responsive to the electorate or face imminent extinction.

Secret Policemen are having a ball at our expense

Once upon a time people complained of rarely seeing a bobby on the beat. Now they’re lucky to get a full glimpse of a policeman’s face.

A shot of pure democracy

I look forward to receiving my American ballot. It’s a shot of pure democracy which I long for after the faux democracy of the UK.

Article: Lament for the public loo

Public services should be for the many not the few.

Get your nose stuck into the council’s books

Government bureaucrats spend a lot of money telling us what they wants us to know but very little on what we actually want to know, namely how they spend our money.

Met keeps crime statistics under lock and key

The UK is one of the most watched societies in the world, yet the police are loath to release crime data.

Article: Let’s get crime mapping

It works in America – and could help to improve crime clear-up rates dramatically.

Tweaking tails: the battle to reveal MPs’ expenses

The three-year-battle with the House of Commons has been met with obstruction and obfuscation at every turn.

Police PR Spending

Police forces across the UK are spending £39m each year on press and PR.

PR is taking over our public institutions

A senior police worker is facing a disciplinary hearing for “damaging the reputation” of West Yorkshire police.

Witch-hunt? MPs don’t get it

My battle to make MPs’ expenses more transparent met with obstruction and mystification.

Police misconduct claims cost £44 million

The first-ever disclosure of compensation payouts for public liability claims and clearly shows the value of freedom of information.

Article: Signs of disrespect

When you see one of these bossy, passive-aggressive signs threatening the public with prosecution or arrest, you quickly know two things about the institution you’re dealing with.

A spy in the sky

Two weekends ago at the V Festival, revellers were surprised to see a remote-controlled surveillance drone flying and filming overhead.

What would Aristotle do?

Observations on Facebook and friendship.

Article: Google maps give direction

Local authorities are increasingly using the free application from the search giant on their websites, bypassing Ordnance Survey.

Article: libel out of control

The libel laws are an abomination. They favour rich, litigious bullies at the expense of free expression.

Article: 266 ways the state can enter your home

Heather Brooke on the alarming growth of the State’s right to enter your property.

MPs seek to exempt themselves from own law

The prospect of escaping scrutiny from prying eyes is so tempting that MPs do not realise the colossal damage they are doing to their own reputations.

A Ray of Light May be Snuffed Out

Article for US Sunshine Week on Britain’s FOI laws.

Freedom – only if we can get the information

Two years on and the Freedom of Information Act has been enough of a success to warrant its possible demise.

Article: Academic use of freedom of information

Just as researchers are beginning to use the Freedom of Information Act for serious investigative research, the government has announced changes that will block all but the silliest and simplest requests.

Article: Future of investigative reporting

New techniques of accessing data online could lead to a revival of serious and challenging investigative reporting.

Article: Access denied to the laws that govern us

The law of the land is unreadable – due to Crown Copyright.

Article: Journalists and wiretapping

The Information Commissioner thinks that journalists should be imprisoned for up to two years for paying private detectives to obtain information.

Article: Free Our Data

How can public information be free if there’s a charge?

Article: Commissioner gets a grilling

As pending FOIA complaints reach 1500, Heather Brooke explains how the regulator needs to sharpen up its act.

Article: Denying the law to the public

Government’s ‘iron grip’ on raw law data is denying public access.

Article: There’s nothing private about an MP’s expenses

Few of us would assume we could claim more than £120,000 in expenses every year without handing over receipts to the boss. Yet that’s exactly what Westminster MPs are doing.

Article: Policing of protests

Forget all this namby-pamby peaceful protesting. The only way to grab a politician’s ear is to do so with force. That’s the loud and clear message from the authorities.

Article: Publish Sex Offenders Register

The sex offenders register should be made public

The sad demise of the public convenience

The Victorians made Britain the envy of the world for public toilets. Ever since, we’ve been sitting on our laurels.

Article: Problems at the Information Commissioner’s Office

The UK watchdog charged with ensuring that public bodies obey the new Freedom of Information Act already has a huge backlog of appeals that will take years to clear. An even greater surprise is that these figures, along with early decisions, were withheld and were only made public after filing an FOI request.

Article: Covering arms & defence

Journalist’s Toolbox on investigating the arms trade

Observations on secrecy

It was meant to shine a light on state power. And in its first year of operation the Freedom of Information Act has successfully illuminated some rats and cockroaches, but central government remains an unturned stone.

Justice by postcode

Examining data from the Crown Prosecution Service.

Article: Justice by Postcode

Criminal suspects are up to eight times more likely to go free in some parts of the country than others because of a postcode system of justice.

Article: Prosecution rates by area

The Crown Prosecution Service’s own data on the outcome of cases reveals huge variations in performance by its lawyers and administrators across England and Wales.

Police Secrecy

The secret policeman has a ball.

Binge lawmaking

Politicians are stumbling around Parliament, giddy from binge lawmaking.

Let them read Heat

Has anybody in Britain actually read ‘1984’?

Costly Crown Copyright

Why we must cut the costly Crown copyright

Comment: Contempt of Court

Get rid of these paternalistic laws.

Article: Prohibitions on Disclosure

The four hundred laws that shackle your right to know.

Article: Sunshine Week

The first national “Sunshine Week” has just come to an end in the US.

Article: Parliament crime figures

The Houses of Parliament have been revealed as rich pickings for thieves.

The Government’s right to keep us in the dark

In a modern democracy we should not have to go begging for scraps of information.

Article: Councils and FOI

Just what do councils plan to publish online to comply with the Freedom of Information Act?

Article: FOI and community care

Privacy and public accountability may seem mutually exclusive but
social care professionals must learn quickly how to straddle the divide.

Can you keep a secret – in open court?

How can evidence be heard but not read? On the odd rules of evidence highlighted by a royal memo.

Records being shredded before Information Act

Government departments have been shredding record numbers of official files in the months leading up to the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act.

Tell us about the mould and rats

Observations on food.

Article: Switch on to the principle of open justice

The American experience shows that televising court proceedings does a lot more good than harm.

Now let’s see their tax returns

British MPs, now grumbling about having to disclose their expenses would do well to look at their United States counterparts and count themselves lucky.

My fight for fair play in Florida

Heather Brooke explains her determination to vote in the key battleground state.

Do you want to know a secret?

The UK’s Freedom of Information Act is proving its worth even before it comes into force.