The Bureau of Investigative Journalism is an independent not-for-profit organisation founded by David and Elaine Potter in 2010 with an initial £2million fund. David and Elaine continue to generously support the organisation and remain our largest funders.
We pursue research, investigations, reporting and analysis which is of public benefit by undertaking in depth research into the governance of public, private and third sector organisations and their influence.
Our aim is to help educate the public about the realities of power in today’s world. We are particularly concerned with the undermining of democratic processes and failures to accord with fair, legal and transparent practices.
We believe that the public needs to be provided with the knowledge and facts about the way in which important institutions in our society operate, so that they can be fully informed citizens, and that this is indispensable to democracy.
Based at City University London, the Bureau works in collaboration with other groups to get its investigations published and distributed. Since its foundation the Bureau has worked with BBC File On Four, BBC Panorama, BBC Newsnight, Channel 4 Dispatches, Channel 4 News, al Jazeera English, the Independent, the Financial Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Sunday Times, Le Monde, Mediapart, the Guardian, the Observer and the Daily Mirror.
We make our work freely available under a Creative Commons licence.
Major investigations include:
Covert Drone War provides a full dataset of all known US drone attacks in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, and in 2015 we started monitoring international airstrikes in Afghanistan. Our analysis has changed the public’s understanding of US actions and revealed that under Obama over 3,000 people, including nearly 500 civilians, have been killed by drones. Our findings have been used widely in media outlets including the New York Times, Pakistan’s Dawn, and the BBC. In 2013 the Drones team won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Journalism. The team have given evidence to the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Drones. The work has been commended by Jamie Shea, assistant deputy general secretary, NATO and Christof Heyns, United Nations special rapporteur on extra judicial killings.
In 2016 we launched a project examining Drug Resistance to superbugs. An estimated 700,000 people die each year around the world because they have an infection that has become immune to the drugs used to treat it. Without effective antibiotics, infections – like sepsis, or food poisoning – can kill. In this investigation a team of Bureau reporters dig into this critical public health issue. Initially we are focusing on antibiotics used in the food supply chain and farming – an under reported part of the problem. Our work has helped to get important data into the public sphere about the use of antibiotics in farming.
A year long investigation into Teenage Migration highlighted a quirk of the system that means unaccompanied minors are less likely to be given asylum than adults. The work first focused on the situation in the UK revealing that thousands of young people who had arrived in the UK as unaccompanied minors had been returned to war torn countries including Iraq and Afghanistan upon turning 18. Our reporting led to an embarrassing apology from the immigration minister after our reporter revealed that figures he had supplied to parliament had been shockingly inaccurate. The investigation was shortlisted for two Amnesty Media Awards. In 2016 we published an examination into the problem across Europe.
In 2014 we investigated the use of a controversial legal doctrine known as Joint Enterprise, which is used widely in UK courts to convict groups of people for the same crime. It is particularly used to target gang crimes. However, there is wide spread concern among many people in the legal profession that too many people on the edge of a crime are being convicted for serious incidents such as murder where mandatory sentencing applies. The investigation sparked a select committee inquiry and won a leading legal media award. In 2016 a landmark decision in the Supreme Court has the potential to change the way people are convicted under joint enterprise.
The Bureau has examined the influence of power and money on politics over a number of projects. Our investigation Lobbying’s Hidden Influence examined lobby groups representing unsavoury regimes, their workings and disclosed links between lobbyists and officials. Our work has also analysed how many members of the House of Lords, the UK’s upper house, have business and city interests and looked at the power of the financial lobby. In 2014 and 2015 we looked at Party Political Funding, work that has been widely reported in the UK media. Our work has helped to inform the public debate about the establishment of a statutory lobbying register in the UK and the individuals supporting the UK’s biggest political parties.
Our comprehensive study of Deaths in Police Custody found that over 11 years, 333 people died in the UK in police custody, but no police officers had been charged in connection with these deaths. Our findings scrutinised this issue and led to the UK’s police regulator launching a root and branch review.
Since it launched the Bureau has secured over 50 front-page stories and has produced a number of award-winning web, radio and TV reports.
These include winning the Amnesty International Digital Awards two years running, firstly for our investigation into the Iraq War Logs and latterly for our work on Deaths in Police Custody.
In 2011 the Bureau won the Thomson Reuters reporting Europe Award for a BBC 4 radio programme on Europe’s Missing Millions, and the investigation into drone warfare was shortlisted for the Foreign Press Association Awards.
And in 2012 the Bureau and its journalists were shortlisted in four categories at the first Press Gazette British Journalism Awards, which emphasise journalism in the public interest. Chris Woods was nominated for Investigation of the year for his work on drone warfare; Nick Mathiason was short-listed for the Business journalist of the year award for his work on the financial lobby. The Bureau itself was nominated for the Innovation of the Year award. And Emma Slater’s raft of work ensured that she won the New journalist of the year award.
In 2013 the Bureau’s drones team won the coveted Martha Gellhorn prize for journalism.
In 2014 the Bureau’s Tom Warren won the British Journalism Award for the best new reporter, and the Bureau’s investigation into Joint Enterprise won the Bar Council’s Legal Reporting Award.
In 2015 Nick Mathiason was shortlisted for the coveted George Orwell award for his work on housing. Nick was also shortlisted in the British Journalism awards for best business reporter. Crofton Black was also short listed in the British Journalism awards for his data project that revealed the contractors working at the heart of the US drone programme. Our reporter Maeve McClenaghan was the only journalist to receive two nominations in the Amnesty awards for her work on unaccompanied asylum seeking children.
The Bureau’s largest funders remain our founders, David and Elaine Potter. Their continuing support for the Bureau comes from a belief that investigative journalism is a powerful, yet under-resourced means of improving democratic processes and holding the powerful to account. Elaine was an investigative journalist on the Sunday Times and one of the team which led the investigation into thalidomide. David was the founder of Psion which made the world’s first hand held computers and helped create Symbian the first joint operating system for the mobile phone industry.
Since 2015 the Bureau has also received grants from the Adessium Foundation, the Reva and David Logan Foundation, the Bertha Foundation, the Pears Foundation, Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, Changing Markets and the Open Society Foundation. More information is available here.
Our work is published on our website and freely available under a Creative Commons licence. Any revenue received from media organisations or others is re-invested in our journalism.
If you would like to support the Bureau you can do so here or, if you are a foundation interested in helping us continue our work, please contact us here.
A full list of organisations that have donated to the Bureau is published here.
The Bureau wants its stories to reach the widest possible audience. If you would like to use our investigations please see the Steal our Stories section for more details.
You can contact us here.
You can find a list of staff here.