| David Leigh |
His book revealed a Wikileaks password
Retired journalist in the Guardian.
David Leigh is a British journalist and author who was the investigations executive editor of The Guardian.
Educated at Nottingham High School and King's College, Cambridge, leaving with a postgraduate degree in 1969. He is an investigative journalist who received the first of several British Press Awards in 1979 for an exposure of jury-vetting. He was a journalist for the Scotsman, The Times, and The Guardian, and a Laurence Stern fellow at the Washington Post in 1980. Between 1989 and 1996, he also worked as a reporter for Thames TV's current affairs series "This Week", and a producer/director for Granada TV's investigative series "World in Action".
From 1980 to 1989, he was chief investigative reporter at The Observer. His book The Wilson Plot (1988) increased public interest in alleged attempts by the British security services and others to destabilise Harold Wilson's government in the 1970s. His 1995 TV documentary for World in Action, "Jonathan of Arabia", led after a libel trial to the jailing for perjury of former Conservative defence minister Jonathan Aitken.
With his colleague Rob Evans, Leigh published a series of corruption exposures in The Guardian about international arms giant BAE Systems. After a criminal inquiry by the US Department of Justice and other international prosecutors, the company was eventually required to pay penalties totalling $529 million. In 2006, Leigh became the Anthony Sampson Professor of Reporting in the Journalism department at City University London. His wife's sister married Alan Rusbridger, who later became editor of The Guardian
In 2010 David Leigh was a member of the team which handled the release of United States diplomatic and military documents which had been passed to WikiLeaks, and which worked closely with Julian Assange. The relationship soured after the Guardian published details of allegations of sexual misbehaviour made against Assange by two Swedish women. This caused David Leigh to tweet: "The #guardian published too many leaks for #Assange 's liking, it seems. So now he's signed up 'exclusively' with #Murdoch's Times. Gosh."
In WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy (Guardian Books 2011), written with Luke Harding, Leigh mentioned the password to a set of unredacted classified US State Department cables. WikiLeaks had distributed multiple copies of encrypted files containing these cables, and others had mirrored the data with BitTorrent. Defending himself against criticism for subsequently dumping out all this data, Assange criticised Leigh and the Guardian instead, for unnecessarily disclosing the password. In response The Guardian said "it's nonsense to suggest the Guardian's WikiLeaks book has compromised security in any way". According to The Guardian, WikiLeaks had indicated that the password was temporary and that WikiLeaks had seven months to take action to protect the files it had subsequently decided to post online. The book was made into a 2014 Hollywood movie, "The Fifth Estate". Assange's supporters complained that he and Wikileaks were not given any money for it.
In 2011, after Private Eye magazine criticised an allegedly antisemitic Wikileaks associate Israel Shamir, editor Ian Hislop reported that Assange telephoned and complained of a campaign led by The Guardian to smear Wikileaks and deprive it of Jewish donations. Three people involved, including Leigh, according to Assange, were Jewish. Hislop says he pointed out that at least one of the three was not in fact Jewish and that this "Jewish conspiracy" was unconvincing. Assange eventually backed down and told Hislop to, "Forget the Jewish thing." In response, Assange said, "Hislop has distorted, invented or misremembered almost every significant claim and phrase."
In a further spat in 2012, Assange referred in a press release to: "an information mule in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Yossi Melman, who conspired with Guardian journalist David Leigh to secretly, and in violation of WikiLeaks' contract with the Guardian, move WikiLeaks' U.S. diplomatic cables to Israel." Melman characterised this as a "clumsy smear" attempt.
In 1979, David Leigh won a British Press Awards special award for exposing jury-vetting, whilst a reporter at the Guardian. In 1985, he won "Investigative Reporter of the Year" in the Granada TV What the Papers Say awards, for exposing MI5 vetting of BBC staff. In 2007, he won the Paul Foot Award, with his colleague Rob Evans, for the BAE bribery exposures. The prize was awarded annually by Private Eye and The Guardian in memory of the campaigning journalist Paul Foot. Leigh and Evans were also presented with the Granada TV What the Papers Say Judges' Award for "an outstanding piece of investigative journalism that uncovered a story of great significance". In 2010, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists gave him and five other journalists the Daniel Pearl Award for their investigation of toxic waste dumping by oil traders Trafigura. In 2015, he and a Guardian team he led won "Investigation of the Year" at the British Journalism Awards for their exposure of tax-dodging at HSBC's Swiss bank.
In February 2013, the Press Gazette listed him as third in their list of the top ten investigative journalists.
- David Leigh, The Frontiers of Secrecy: Closed Government in Britain, Praeger Publishers (30 June 1980), ISBN 978-0-313-27093-2
- David Leigh, High Time: The Life and Times of Howard Marks, William Heineman Ltd (8 October 1984), ISBN 978-0-434-41339-3; HarperCollins (1988), ISBN 978-0-04-364023-4
- David Leigh, The Wilson Plot: The Intelligence Services and the Discrediting of a Prime Minister, Pantheon Books (1988), ISBN 978-0-394-57241-3; Arrow Books (1 June 1989), ISBN 978-0-7493-0067-8
- David Leigh, Betrayed: Trial of Matrix Churchill, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (4 February 1993), ISBN 978-0-7475-1552-4
- David Leigh, Luke Harding and David Pallister, The Liar: Fall of Jonathan Aitken, Penguin Books (1997)
- David Leigh and Ed Vulliamy, Sleaze: The Corruption of Parliament, Fourth Estate (17 March 1997), ISBN 978-1-85702-694-8
- David Leigh and Luke Harding, WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy, Guardian Books (1 February 2011), ISBN 978-0-85265-239-8
A Document by David Leigh
|Title||Document type||Publication date||Subject(s)|
|Document:Millbank Technical Services||article||8 June 2007||Millbank Technical Services|
|Document:George Monbiot’s excuses for not speaking out loudly in defence of Assange simply won’t wash||blog post||6 October 2020||Jonathan Cook||The war on Julian Assange has not only been a war on journalism. It is also a war on the whistleblowers who have assisted journalists and Wikileaks in arriving at the truth. Hanging on the outcome of Assange’s case is not only his personal fate, but journalism’s very ability to tap into sources close to the centres of power. In abandoning Assange, we abandon any hope of finding out the truth on a whole range of the most pressing issues facing us.|
|Document:Julian Assange Must be Freed, Not Betrayed||Article||18 February 2020||John Pilger||Sarah Ferguson's interview made no mention of a leaked document, revealed by WikiLeaks, called 'Libya Tick Tock', prepared for Hillary Clinton, which described her as the central figure driving the destruction of the Libyan state in 2011. This resulted in 40,000 deaths, the arrival of ISIS in North Africa and the European refugee and migrant crisis.|
|Document:The Assange Arrest is a Warning From History||Article||12 April 2019||John Pilger||Leni Riefenstahl, close friend of Adolf Hitler, whose films helped cast the Nazi spell over Germany told me that the message in her films, the propaganda, was dependent not on “orders from above” but on what she called the “submissive void” of the public: "When people no longer ask serious questions, they are submissive and malleable. Anything can happen.”|
|Document:Your Man in the Public Gallery – Assange Hearing Day 2||blog post||26 February 2020||Craig Murray||Then, to wrap up proceedings, Baraitser dropped a massive bombshell. She stated that although Article 4.1 of the US/UK Extradition Treaty forbade political extraditions, this was only in the Treaty. That exemption does not appear in the UK Extradition Act.|
- William Turvill "Investigative journalist David Leigh retires after 30 years with The Guardian", Press Gazette, 15 April 2013
- Roy Greenslade "David Leigh, doyen of investigative journalists, steps down", guardian.co.uk (Greenslade blog), 17 April 2013
- Stewart, Angus (1983). Contemporary Britain. Routledge. p. viii. ISBN 0-7100-9406-X. "David Leigh has been chief investigative reporter, the Observer, since 1980"
- Tiku, Nitasha "Julian Assange Picks a Media Fight With the Guardian", New York Magazine, 21 December 2010
- Ben Quinn "Julian Assange 'Jewish conspiracy' comments spark row", The Guardian, 1 March 2011
- "British magazine: Assange says Jewish conspiracy trying to discredit WikiLeaks", Haaretz, 2 March 2011
- Anshel Pfeffer and Ben-Tovim, "Israel, Kurdish fighters destroyed Iran nuclear facility, email released by WikiLeaks claims", Haaretz, 27 February 2012.