Nick Davies spent 40 years as a journalist, primarily as Special Correspondent for The Guardian where he exposed the UK’s hidden depths of poverty and of child sex abuse; uncovered the failure of policies on crime, education and illegal drugs; revealed the tax affairs of Britain’s richest man; and investigated the editorial failings and criminal behaviour of mainstream news media.
He was centrally involved in the publication of secret US logs and cables obtained by Wikileaks and in exposing the phone-hacking scandal in Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper empire.
His book ‘Hack Attack’, which exposed Murdoch’s abuse of power as well as the crime in his newsrooms, was published in the summer of 2014 in the UK, US, Canada and Australia. It is currently being made into a film by George Clooney.
He was named journalist of the year, feature writer of the year and reporter of the year in British press awards and won the special awards for investigative reporting which are given in memory of Martha Gellhorn, Paul Foot and Tony Bevins. He was made an honorary doctor of literature at the London School of Economics and the Open University; and an honorary fellow of the University of Westminster and Goldsmiths College, London.
As a news reporter at the Guardian in the early 1980s, he covered the siege at the Iranian embassy in London; the riots in Brixton; the trials of the Yorkshire Ripper, Dennis Nilsen and mainland IRA activists; and worked on investigations into police corruption and the targeting of soft left groups by the UK Security Service, MI5. He went on to become Home Affairs Correspondent of The Observer and Chief Feature Writer of the short-lived London Daily News before beginning 30 years as a freelance.
In June 2010, he initiated the alliance of news organisations which published US military and diplomatic secrets which had been obtained by Wikileaks. That series provoked a global debate about US foreign policy and led to the Guardian winning the award of Newspaper of the Year. It was the subject of a film made by Dreamworks, Fifth Estate, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange and with David Thewlis as Nick Davies.
Between July 2009 and July 2011, he wrote more than a hundred Guardian stories about crime in Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World and about the failure of British governments, police and press regulators to hold Murdoch to account. This led to six different police inquiries in England and Scotland, a series of arrests and criminal trials, and to the establishing of Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry into the culture and practices of the press. His work on this subject won eight awards including the German Henri Nannen award for press freedom and the award as journalist of the year from the Foreign Press Association in London.
He published six books: White Lies, investigating a racist miscarriage of justice in Texas; Murder on Ward Four, exposing weaknesses in the National Health Service through a nurse’s attacks on children; Dark Heart, uncovering the scale and origins of UK poverty in stories from crack houses and street gangs; School Report, analysing the failure of government education policy; Flat Earth News, a controversial account of falsehood, distortion and propaganda in quality news media, which won the first Bristol Festival of Ideas book award; and Hack Attack on Murdoch, crime and power.
He also wrote feature films and made TV documentaries; during the 1990s, he was an on-screen reporter for World In Action.
He retired in 2016, but he still teaches masterclasses in the techniques of investigative reporting. Hundreds of reporters in Britain, Canada, South Africa, India and China have attended the class.