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Read this: Media Masters - James Ball

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Media Masters - James Ball…

Media matters with Paul Blanchard welcome to media Masters series of one-to-one interviews with people at the top of the media game Samsung by James Ball investigative journalist and author parts best numbers involvement in WikiLeaks is reported for a wealth of broadcast and print outlets including Channel 4 the BBC Al Jazeera ITN the Guardian BuzzFeed and the new European in 2013 after 2 years on the Guardians investigations team he became editor editor and reporter on The Global surveillance candle prompted by NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden james' and a number of accolades found his career including a Pulitzer Prize and a Paul Foot award James thank you for joining me.

Thanks for having me a Pulitzer Prize that's amazing have never won anything you win one move to America first two there a bit picky like that.

So I mean it was a big team of us that got it, but really it was further insight your general Jean

Yes, that was there the killer.

I think everyone would agree it was that yeah, but no it's not the nice easy much as spending about 18 months of Our Lives go to the Edward Snowden files, so little really let's go straight to that mean tell us about those 18 months bus stop not having never heard of him.

So I had to have a bit of a chewy week at the Guardian I've had a slightly yeah.

Well deserved or looking for something and it sort of sloped off to the pub at about 4:30 on a Friday is reasonable you a journalist that exactly and I get a phone call about 5:15 and I'll look at my phone and it's Sir Alan rusbridger heard of him.

Are you now then the editor-in-chief and mama Media Masters had been in this very chat and that's not a call that you usually his father's get at that time did Alan on your phone or did you say Alan rusbridger always sunny?

So so so they tried to run run outside the pub so excited less puppy James are you still in the office? How I've just left, but I'm so nearby I could come back if I need to to expect you say no wait till Monday so can you come back in and I'm thinking quite was in more trouble.

I realised this week's get up into his office the centuries favourite.

What's the earliest you can jump on a plane to New York to sort out your son of team was very sad for a week or two.

I think we might have a little story and we can't talk about it on the phone and said basically you and MacAskill Glenn Greenwald are on a plane to Hong Kong I want you to fly to New York to be ready to report it out of there as well and so so the day and a half later.

I was on a plane to New York I can remember what is Denise and it is said that I'll be back in 3 or 4 days should I try to finish off a couple of pieces while you're out there with you because I was work on some projects before and ended up.

Think therefore it for two years.

That's a long 3 days, so we knew from Saturday one from the Monday in the office that we were going to try and launch the first story within a day or two and then within a week.

We were gonna name Edward Snowden we sort of initially we knew that was the timetable we were working on or we lose the story as it was it was really quite intense you don't know time to get over the jet lag given that you wouldn't have any times to get over jet lag.

What was the first thing you do when you went in the touchdown first thing is she trying to find out? What's the story is as big as they saying are we being pranked? What am I looking at things these? Leaks? Is there always immensely complicated.

You know people sought think you just get past something about USB drive like in Mission Impossible Fallout pasta USB drivers.

Not son of writing here's our evil master plan on them.

It's other evil people and have really wish to beats executive summary and so their referencing a whole ton of stuff that they know what means me you down and say you've got to try and get your head round all the classified stuff all the quite advanced technological stuff and solid go what's really happening here.

So you trying to get your head round it and also trying to sell it do all the various stuff to authenticate it so we are all now Ewen MacAskill who is Denzel Washington editor? I had come downtown, We're trying to think of all sorts of extra questions to give him for Snowdon to helping verify.

It was he in Hong Kong at this point so he was down there Glenn Greenwald onions job.

Was is this guy who he says he is and so it has to be obvious.

He had his sort of staff passes from the contractor jobs all of this stuff.

You like does he have a car parking?

From 2 years ago does he have just tried to go what something he might not think of if he's got a fake one ID card cos your biggest thought is how you do all have surely surely.

You know there's never been the top secret document published by a media outlet in the modern era.

So if you noticed not since Pentagon Papers and so kind of like we have issued story are we going to fall for our order never work again or worse end up in Guantanamo well, I mean that was that was so they're quite a real possibility, but we do they put in some of the convenience supermacs more comfortable, but yeah, that was quite real quite quickly actually we need legal advice.

We take a legal advice before publishing that can remember the very first document we published was a court order for Verizon we did it because it was a court order not an operational.

It was a simple story.

We were kinda like his know any of the best thing in here now.

I can remember me and Stuart Miller one of the news has it is when compared to the rest of the stuff.

This is a bit 7 out of 10.

Do we think it'll make enough of a splash of course within an hour of it being up.

It was leading every network are both located at 8 edred not very good at this hour, but we did the first few stories samsoe prism about how to attacking into the side of the big tech companies and then sort of various others we got about 4 stories in 4 days and then we're getting ready to name Edward and essentially what kind of we did then once we've had our usual lawyers advising is now the very first day.

I can remember solid Janine Gibson our editor was on a conference call and she done the sort of request for commenting and ended up on a conference call with the deputy director says the FBI the CIA the NSA like every sort of major age of the sea.

That are really trying to put on their know when you don't understand how this works you know come down to the White House in two weeks will have a meeting will discuss it then she went and publishing it in 2 hours.

So you need a comment by then, but no that's not how it how it goes well.

I'm the one with the document and the News outlets.

It's not really for you to tell me how it's done and it's a court order.

It doesn't name any sort of people it doesn't do this.

It's read out people's right to know that a very strong public interest.

Why can't we publish it what possible safety recent do you have an event? I will discuss it with you later and she went well.

We're talking now and then they did all sorts to try and find someone to get rid of this annoying woman.

Are you though this British woman? So they started to sort of getting MI5 press people to call reporters in the UK to say who does you know who does this woman density and the answer is of course only the editor-in-chief.

Who was on a plane out of contacts and had given her absolute discretion to publish the first story and they just couldn't get that this one British woman was the person making the decision you know sexism quite probably so you're a few days into this quite fraught relationship.

We got this quite so the well-known first amendment lawyer and he basically said well said they've never brought a case like this.

We don't think they would but given they don't know how much you have I don't know how much she have no.

Do you have another two stories? We kind of a shaky head ok? So if they keep coming you could easily be said to be in breach of the espionage act and the penalties of that of course go all the way up to Death From starts like a bit already well-known.

I'm sure that wouldn't happen said but we're in Uncharted territory and sort the key thing you can decide what's look if this does go down the legal route.

You could all be searched or PCP

You know you got to go in and Son of C A grand jury, you said so you can't widen out your reporting team your group of people who are inside and outside of all the gory details the story will have to stay as it is now and so the sort of five or six of us who worked on it in the US in week one that was it that was the reporters of the Editors right the way through to the end, so that was something quite a strange thing is so does that was the me to go outside and please not coming home very soon and of course.

I ended up moving there formerly about three weeks later.

I'm surprised.

They gave you a permit like you supposed to do when the trouble that could be an issue, but I mean fair play to the US though I mean I'm just back from a reporting trips there now, but sir day for about 2 years every single time.

I flew into America I got secondary security screening which is where a fairly ill-tempered.

Person walks you over to another room and you've got to sit there for about 2 hours and then they do a bag search should ask me some really inane questions like nothing particularly related to reporting and then let me in so it would always take to two-and-a-half hours and they won't let you look in your bag or look at your phone so boring so you can not on Twitter with everything please.

I've lost the word for the trick.

I learnt it if you had a booking your hand they like you read it so I still always cross everybody with a book in my global entry.

That's the best thing I've ever done that for years.

I walked past these people in the Global entry kiosk syncing one of those people who could apply it took me about 6 months to pass wherever security checks and now just breathing the best thing since sliced bread, but no into the state's last month I didn't get secondary screening tonight.

I got through airport security already a loft.

Even it's physically looks like and it could be anything it's like a little gold medal it looks like a chocolate coin in all honesty.

It's not worth it.

They all the other one.

So it's it's a medal for public service which is meant to be the sort of big 10010 all the others so you get text round cascade the Pulitzer you never know if it will let's play she just been polite of course.

I do but you never know they might radically change their standards anyway, let's let's move on from this place and move the story along so I went there for 3 days and you must as you just said that you knew already that this was going to take a lot longer.

Yeah, so we've had that first floor and then we ended up with just an immensely complicated reporting job to do because we had a lot more documents, so we ever published people have acted as if we were so if spraying classified material or low.

The place, I think we published extracts of about 35 documents we had tens of thousands says that it's sort of that public record.

I'm not so the breaking anything to say that we were looking through for the stuff that was in the public interest that didn't sort of cause danger and we still talked with the agency's every time to say to see if they had specific kathak any concerns know sometimes ago.

Look if you really must publish this no cos we're not know we never done anything.

It's all wildly responsible.

You shouldn't do any of it, but well.

You shouldn't do any of their if you particularly could not do that one sentence for this reason and they give you a sort of vague, but actual reason that was reasonable would listen to that quite often.

You know not giving out specific locations not naming staff we sorted with very happy to do that kind of stuff, but we're said she were trying to publish on GTA V Q the UK spying agency.

And actually out of London we were reporting on the NSA sort out of New York and then Glenn Greenwald would wouldn't come into America the sun reporter his nose and contactors.

We know they leave go on the story.

He lives in Rio and would only solid report there and you could have some limited sort of encrypted chat send emails and stuff like that but for any proper conversation you had to fly and meet face-to-face working to get worse things is the only software to to salute securely.

I swear I got about 200000 air miles out of it at the downside is I flew about 200000 Miles the I meant is a problem that our grandchildren can say it's my view the campaign we did straight after statute addressing climate change campaign great time and interest which absolutely sure is suddenly.

Tint campaigning investigative journalism with frequent trips to Rio this literally every journalist wet dream.

I know I will get no sympathy but it was winter Andrea so it was constant thunderstorms and it's an 11 hour flight from New York and it's rubbish airline.

It's really cold and funnily enough you might not be shocked to hear this the Guardian flies you Academy coaches the colours are so 11 hours and Coats when you've kind of flying 2 times already that we are all my all the people who know where you're going I like how you in Rio you bastard really yeah, and I will see the inside of a Marriott room and a computer screen and gliders house and only have you gone up against all flags on private jets for renditions on exactly their their.

You're doing you doing it kind of on Shoestring if you know you're having to restart going out and buying laptops in cash from bestbuys like $300 and then like literally burning through their Wi-Fi chips.

So we knew they would be like secure and not calling out to anyone speak like some kind of spine.

It is a lot like some spy movies.

We we played with burner phones with solid we were pretty sure around phones are getting hacked all the time and it was really funny because of course I'd come from WikiLeaks so I've done a bit of this spy V spy nonsense before I will get asked about Langley school life in in the first day or two of doing it.

I would sort of asked quite almost bit gingerly like I know you all Think I'm Paranoid I'm medically not have any phones in the room are we doing this phone would start really roll their eyes at me and kind of and within about all the wheels Alexa was there in about a week never any of the CD redditors.

Call to walk to the room then unplug every electronic device the phone should be outside like well outside the sort of the curtains would be closed United start of when from James Hill bad to because they were reading about what the surveillance capabilities were too.

Oh my god, they ripping out the conference call systems in table.

I don't want anyone like soap dishes Lisa very my conversations but only because I'm kind of the truth coming out which is what I dreadfleet door the life.

I lead you put work.

This is the weird thing a lot of people are the one with whatever but but no it was quite funny managing to sort of make paranoid conspiracy theorists out of all of my boss is so was as proud of that one.

So how did the story move on because it mean it built to set your body said of the colour of the intensity that it is a built-up what what came next so I'm in a lot of ways the reveal of Snowdon and then.

Sensitive almost of soap operas of him son of ending up stranded in Russia with a huge story for a lot of people but we sort of immediately moved on from it.


Obviously the Guardian carried on following its strongly stayed in touch with him all the time.

You know I know Alan Jardine everyone's kept in touch with Snowdon over the years as well, because it wasn't like deepthroat where you meeting someone in a trench coat in a car part of the wanted to remain anonymous for decades someone who's got a global media profile in his own right.

He knew that he wouldn't be able to avoid being picked up by them and so he's not the best protection for him was being known to the world which I think was exactly right and it's telling somebody knew as much about security as he did just didn't think he could not be traced correctly so the result of that drama on one side, but then what we had at that stage.

Was you know we had a little set of documents to begin with to show that we would actually publish them.

Then he gave us everything else, but so he went from trying to do the hey.

What's the stories in these two dozen documents to holy hell, what's in these thousands of residents a setting up ways to look at that two separate them out to sort of work out.

What hit the threshold for a story and so some of them we started really worked in prep.

So we found each other tried to do UK reporting and us reporting and I worked on both so in the UK we can have found a program called tempura which makes everyone think of you know the better, but spelt differently and that was like Sky Plus but for the internet.

They're keeping 3 days of Internet traffic in and out of the UK so they could dip in and search it and just check out.

What was going on so we revealed that he was not revealed a bunch of other stuff and then we started getting into the more complex ones so the early stories were often.

One document would give us a story but then some of the more complex stuff or what they were doing and the most classified stuff to be a little reference in one document in another somewhere else to piece it together and it would be immensely technical and confusing and there's almost no one you can consult because it's all classified so the people who know what it means you cannot legally forbidden from telling you and so we did a massive 1 on them kind of really working to undermine encryption not that sounds really geeky but it's the main security for all of us online.

It's what stops hackers.

It's what stops ID theft at makes the sort of global economy work and they've been undermining the standards for it and that was the only story throughout the whole thing that they asked us not to run at all the other ones they talked about reductions or this kind of stuff the US government asked the New York Times and the Guardian not to run it and Jill abramson.

Who is the editor of The oxides of the types?

Where are The Getaway running it on A1 front page and say that was and they really sort of contentious one and then literally you just spend some days you be searching and looking for specific stuff and then sometimes you just commit yourself to sit and read a few hundred documents over the course of a day to see what you could see and then can remember so stumbling about 19 when I was just about to give up and get a beer that a senior US diplomat had been meeting with the NSA and sort of tossed her phone over and said I do want to see if there's anyone on there that you're not targeting and there was 35 world leaders on their Direct sort of phone numbers for them and their heads and so they added a whole couple dozen more world leaders offices to their targeting database credible Cavalier Way literally lost her phone at the end of a meeting to them.

It is Saturday that yet we have our suspicions over here.

It was it didn't name the official but to have 35 world leaders in the phone you started to think all this is one of about 3 people hear a how it was quite fun, but some that one so if we could do an essay, NSA spied on 35 friendly world leaders cos if there any diplomat's phone as well including Angela merkel's she was one of the ones targeted remember that and that was that one of the the biggest kind of eyebrow raising Mum as I would have even bigger one.

I mean that didn't necessarily shock me but that was the one that had big diplomatic Fallout cos I sent it just I think it was partly just how cavalier the tone of it was shouldn't have to spoil her friends.

I'm so that they were so doing it quite that brazen the and at the diplomat's with facilitating it.

That's what caused a lot of the anger in terms of your date international impact those that had the biggest diplomatic him.

Packed with the Tech companies the encryption one was one of the biggest.

There's been a lot of changes in how they do things off the back of that one and then in terms of America it was it was the one that's about domestic solve collection you know that they were hoovering up lots of information from US based people that actually caused a few law changes in the US over here the atmosphere was incredibly different because you know in America this stuff was being absolutely fated and everywhere else was trying to follow up what we were reporting and doing really good work with it and of course the Washington Post has some access to of the rain in the UK pretty much every single other media outlet was just attacking is so the saying you know this isn't journalism this is in a enabling terrorism.

This is sort of undermining the Freedom of son of all day all of this stuff with specifically shouldn't be held to account.

The motivation was that was that just straight up jealousy YouTube these guys you got a good story and it was just sick of this a little bit of the British press.

There is a sort of habit of establishment if you can't run you know if you can't run with the pack if you can't have it as your story of Kate Robbins you shoot it down, but I think most of the price of nose late is quite pro establishment.

You know a lot of the genus that cover the Intelligence agencies.

Do you like being mates with the shots by the like the little toes that you get in a nice cup of tea briefings with very serious man and they're not going to put that at risk by writing anything that might be remotely critical organised and they have the singer skin out of anyone you cover because they tend to get away without being covered.

I just tend to think we spent quite a lot of money on these guys.

They do a lot of so quite important work.

You know there's a lot of good people in these services.

It's not you know.

I'm not of the view that there out there trying to annoy destroy freedom man haters and working for singers to government.

What sector doing important work but they do it with no scrutiny at all is that I mean? I know myself as police which means are incredibly difficult job and I support them but that also means that I want to hold your account any you know rotten apples at spawn the barrel.

Yeah, and there's just such inadequate scrutiny over 30 intelligence agencies that we would never tolerate anywhere else in government.

So you have papers that usually start a tree every single civil servant is an idiot who can't be trusted with a paperclip the seconds there in security.

They must be a genius who we must not ever disagree with a question in anyway.

It's a James Bond tape person putting them at their lives on the line everyday.

Yeah, quite a lot of these sort of civil servants the same way as most intelligence work is quite safe and often quite boring reporting for anything that you came across during that period where did it increased?

Spec for this for these guys was only thing where your eyebrows were raised in a different way we got wow with dogs that but it's not lots of it.

Just makes it harder to sleep at night like these guys are keeping an eye on quite a lot of threats and quite a lot of stuff.

That's bubbling under the surface and if you're trying to go we need to pay attention to this one, but not this one but not this one because you've only got a virus or yeah.

I'm you start sorry thinking well.

There's missiles moving in this country and we think there's more terror threats coming up here and there's chatter among this network of an attacking a western country which of those 3D pay attention to you.

Just bomb all of them exactly that would work but of course we can really report that stuff.

I like cos it's operational firstly you know if we say they're tracking a missile site in x I mean we've just tipped them off.

Also secondly if they're doing their job right what justification do we have for breaking top secret publication said was lots of stuff in there that showed them doing the job that they say they're doing and you know it working or not but clearly train predictive what's happening in the entire world nitride predicting what's happening tomorrow? I can't and so there was a lot of stuff in there were a side note.

This is completely fair enough, but we've published where we saw it raised questions and actually that we've talked about the stereotypes of the Cannibal in the Security Services but also visit the stereotypical characterization of of yourself in terms of you.

Just gone her you publish anything few bits of reduction him again as you just said then you took the drop extremely seriously but words were there any moment we have to come genuinely way up what the public good was on a can of case-by-case document document based every single Storey Helen responsibility for Italy

The final decisions wouldn't be mine that be there be with either Janine Gibson or Alan rusbridger, but often the team would be divided and so people would be solid pushing actually do we think this one meets the threshold? Do you think there's enough to it? You know I'd often be on the side of yes, we should publish this one and so people would say love in the closed room litigate their reasons to run it or not to run it and eventually Allenwood take the decision and then you walk out and have if it's to publish everyone baxterstorey, but now I think people sort of thought we were just mining it for scoops.

Cos I mean I'm sure if I had work today at that would be what I meant we done too but it was really serious consideration went on and other people might have made two different decisions, but I still find it quite easy to defend any of the individual stories if people Point them out because we did have the conversation in advance.

I mean you know.

Alan was pulled in front of Parliament in front of a select committee member and asked if he loved his country which was a great moment particularly think they were trying to help him and not give him a chance to save as patriotic.

I don't think they were allocated prepared and sort of thought about this stuff for so long you know because it's such a big thing inner Alan wants to know does he have the answers what what were the reasons for doing this? What were and so we drill to drill the drill didn't say I was told I was not allowed to be anywhere near people cos if you've left and answer I get cross so I was so shocked with one or two other people is helping like a meeting room well away for The Newsroom to shout at the TV had a moment of outrageous Magnus when a question I'd insisted on briefing in far and everleigh.

Told me he wouldn't come up there came up and it was whether he doubted offices.

Is being gay because one of the stories mentioned that he was an LGBT club in NG th kyu white goods in favour of that and they saw turned that into his outing offices and I've caught this MP making that point on TV I just like his going to ask it on the questions that it's a sort of thing that if you like Spectre will totally throw you because he might as well.

What if we did that and so I've looked into it and found that they listed this on their own public website because Stonewall back to them and now so it was so well.

We revealed some information was on GTA SA skins website.

Do you have an issue? But so would you know all the stuff came up that we sort words with Alan did really well and they're about to questions from the end.

He got asked if I'd been me personally by name had been breaking security and taking documents home based on something else.

In an interview to do with WikiLeaks sort of a few years before where did actually fluffed my quiet.

I've been talking about not taking documents.

I'm kind of changes the little bit a little bit and also it was from a totally different story for a totally different organisation spotlights on in what happened and he was completely baffled and sort of just patted the question off and so I said no we have lots of precautions and their eye at the time because I was moving country.

I was homeless and sofa surfing and Estate hotel rooms when I was in New York and say I really really tried to get the press office to power and stay with us a I definitely hadn't been taking document so because I didn't have her cos he's got because it wasn't a very professional look for sleeping in shop doorways and he's quite reasonably I think we just how important it would being almost.

Redefining cos you know it the eat this could have been you wanna Pulitzer for a did he think actually this is the best thing I never going to work on them from now on I'm going to be writing local newspaper nibs about the the rugby club in Leicester I had some sort of thanks to a very strange that of quirks and let's be honest quite a lot of luck.

I worked for WikiLeaks when I was 23 and so we did the biggest ever leak of military documents of the Iraq war logs and then the biggest ever diplomatically can history 2 months later with the estate cables and say I left WikiLeaks sort of just turning 24 and never thought well.

That's the biggest stories.

I'll ever work on.

I'm just starting my first national newspaper job.

I'm so I've had to a 3 years.

I just thought of quite merely game on the downslope mate.

Just got adjuster.

Which I hadn't expected in which sort of again happy set of circumstances and what are next it would be the centre pin, to mention that mean he directs quite like to take that a government or a president does not yet.

I just speak the world to head so given the lightning struck twice.

You sort of feel like well, probably I will never work in anything that size again, but he never quite know and I mean I've been fairly lucky with what I've been working on since he now works on quite a lot of the offshore leaks that kind of culminated with the Panama papers and that sort of stuff so they've been been working on solicitor Russia and Miss information in the trump Russia stories.

There's always so that more stuff to dig into politics and little bit that seemed to me frustratingly reasonable about all of this.

Dare I say agreeable, I think the key thing especially if you talk about privacy and surveillance is it's really really easy to sound like a tinfoil.

Hat lunatic and kind of going had a government listening to everything and I want to control your mind up for it.

Just for one welcome our robot overlords.

I'm just in case if you can start sounding like a normal human being that cares about lots of other things too and do I think surveillance is the most important store in the world no not necessarily know two countries going to collapse now from whoever you believe if we get brexit wrong enough for all of that kind of stuff.

You know people want field at the table.

I want a job they want for the first 80, but I'll privacy in the strength of our government is a massive issue in the middle of that and I think you know one of the frustrations with the Snowdon the story especially in America was people thought of Barack Obama being the guy ultimately.

With this DS powers and felt fine about it and now Donald Trumps the one with them you want to start start to see the benefits of having checks and balances and controls.

Are we don't have is good to check balances and controls that we could do that's become very obvious software Trump's presidency and say if we've not just thought about well.

I like the current government.

I trust the current government say this stuffs.

All ok.

That would have done is so the better really and if we started thinking about this stuff in connection to what the government can do it might also have alerted is to what other people can do because you know we do now or worry about how I date is used for Political campaigns or Russian disinformation or all of this stuff it it is all connected to it.

So and even as a society you know when the the fappening thing happened when a lot of the Hollywood actors had their personal iCloud hacked and intimate pictures came out.

That's a sign.

She was divided my own friends.

It's a well.

You shouldn't have taken into a pictures of yourself if you know because it you might get hurt other people sent excuse me I can do whatever I like in the privacy of my own home if someone a broken in a burger into my house and stole an intimate pictures.

It's the same thing and it is the same thing and essentially just because it's got a lot easier to do stuff.

We sort of almost of loud that to make it normal you know it used to be that you just never could have search through someone's messages.

They would have all been you know written or typed letters now a 5-second search you could find you know if you're standing in front of your friends phone or computer.

You could search your name on it and see everything that ever said about you know if you wouldn't break into the house and search you all their cupboards for what they've written about you in the diary.

You probably shouldn't do that on someone's phone, but it feels different to us because it's easier and we've left alone my sexual violation it it is it right that that stuffs a crime and that's why.

We do need to think about sellers rights online and security online and you know when part of this stuff is that they they were undermining the security that protects this stuff.

They left us all more vulnerable to being acting that way or hacked financially or in all sorts of other ways and the concern is not only government but also 14 year old obese kids in their parents basement with a brute force hacking these iCloud accounts that the Threat and just coming from government are coming from our fellow citizens exactly and that sort of why strong online security matters and that's sort of the point we were trying to do it's also there is a difference between stuff being so the private and secret secret suggested got some sort of massive shame about it or so if that kind of thing it's not really that all sorts of stuff that's fine, but people don't want to sort out publicly and is also two people can forget what I don't do anything wrong.

I don't really care about it and one day this.

It won't work, but it's worth every single time.

I've overdone it is obvious in the wake of Snowdon did endless panels and shows of defending The reporting and talking about why it mattered the singer someone said that I just said unlock your phone and give it to me and I quite so you don't you don't mind about privacy just might share some things on your phone with the nice audience.

I'll do that now, but there is a bit of me wearing a pair of speed up with a really bad unflattering if you don't mind me saying but no one of course no one ever handed the phone over as well.

You just said he don't care we work for loads of global leaders chief executives in in my day job and all of them are just send one line as they're incredibly polite and engaging in real life, but they just don't discuss anything over email Amit enema question that could be awkward the phone or ring you know that is just routine now because you know I think everyone is aware of this now that years later.

When is a dispute once the email They dragged of Uno

You look at me, why the hell did Eva Eva I write that I mean one of my absolute favourite bits of self-reporting that I've done this discussed I to this I promise I'm almost everyone's kind of learnt that trick especially senior management as they know those paper trails matters so much you know your spot on with it government does it all the time because of freedom of information so civil servants never put anything in the email is I now have even more endless meetings intelligence agencies.

Haven't really learnt this because they've got high secure systems and they're not subject to foi all Court disclosure.

So they can be quiet son of chat chatting gossipy and so shall hired two former MI6 agents to help it get an oil deal through in Nigeria and essentially they paid what looked a lot like a billion dollar bribe is alleged to have been a bribe to a form.

Oil minister there for an Offshore Drilling site mean now, but Part of Me wishes that I was also a former oil minister.

Everyone else has been incredibly careful with how they refer to this contract and pay for it and all of their and they will I get she just goes Mrs e so the guy who was the sunlight recipient of it was a guy called a tattoo Mrs e on the phone again very unhappy.

She says they need at least 5 million now because you've got to pay off people if got to pay off his own people to and you know they can't keep delaying these bribes little bit giving the game away so it was just great fun though that that's not turned up in we got about 3000 pages of prosecutor document sleep from an Italian prosecutors office are we sort of came across the Z

Girls in there and you know what you like.


That's the stuff that is like we are going to be able to get this story over the line but most of the people they're very clipped very careful and you know where you stopped thinking how you know, how are we going to make this colourful and how are we actually got it explain what we think is going on here and then suddenly.

He's MI6 guys just blunder again because they never learns that thing is not settling did you always want to be in investigative journalist can I do it as soon as you left their University didn't you? I did so I kind of fell into slightly by accident on one level.

I was gonna to teach first.

I thought they'd never quite knowing what I wanted to do.

You know mate out first in my family to uni my brother and sister didn't go and say you know did I maybe want to do law and then it turns out that's really expensive because he's got to do a law course and yeah.

It was coming up tonight.

I was enrolled on teach First was coming up to my final.

Domino's still editing a student magazine.

I nearly missed the exam because I was waiting for copy from Richard Griffiths of all people the actor Halifax the overhand written about 10 minutes before we went to stoned typing I like transcribing edit to shout to the people doing the paper if they would send off the magazine for me as I will tell my mum and she saw an advert in The Guardian third investigative journalism course at city and she won't look you clearly like that much more than anything else you do you care about it more than your degree? So why don't you try this course? It was the only one that was still open at city.

It's like a trial year for its edit extended the applications so I have no idea how to pay for it.

Didn't know bursaries exist.

So yeah basically do borderlines scams to fund my way through that you worked the entire year while doing a full-time degree but so so I thought well that's checking application in and no one had bothered to tell the people who run the application site on city and I should disclose a lecture on this course.

No, it's not meant to be a promotion for it, but no one told them that this course had an extended deadline and so it was refusing to let you apply and so I was trying to mess about with the web address cos sometimes you can sort a skip their denial thing as I messed with the web address of bed.

It's only dropped me into this database with the names addresses and private information of everyone who supplied to city that year and somehow to sort of accidentally found this security fault so I sit and think what do I do about this then? So is it a good enough story if I tipped off the Guardians

Someone talk maybe but I said I just emailed r i t guy that's not know I'm going to find out who runs the journalism course at city and get in touch with them inside founder director of channel is Man City who are the time is the guy called Adrian Monk and injuring setting up a chair is the energy economics capitalism that yes that.

But I dropped him an email that said like I found this ability new thing and then p.s.

This won't be important to you, but it is to me.

I was trying to apply for investigative journalism class but I discovered this you sent me an email back going I don't think that happened so I sent him a step-by-step you oh dear when thanks I will fix this urgently.

You know who is clearly quite panicked and copied in was the director of the investigative journalism course and they can approve the investigative abilities.

I copy did Rosie who runs the restoration of course I'm sure she'll be very eager to interview and so yeah, I think that probably did really quite a few favours a girl getting a place on it came after the end of WikiLeaks I went I went with a New Year from working on the grocer covering food manufacturing to working at WikiLeaks are covering the state cables.

I was flat break and I've had about another 3 days on my lease before I would have needed to move back up to Yorkshire a job.

Interview should have got really do you want roti covering leekes of the type that matches sale in Wakefield to come in at 9 resist this is to sort of get into the grocer Friday afternoon job interview 21.

So you don't know what's going on with them that have made a graveyard shift.

It has been slot have my interview with this guy.


He goes I wanted to write a story, please send and 4 questions that you'd asked to see you and it was like.

Sainsbury's quarterly results and so write it up for this sort of comes back and he's asking me more questions you no more interviews stuff looks understory tells me I've totally screwed up the story the lead should be here as high as well written anopheles spp.

Completely missed the point paragraph 7 should be part 1 this about what's Nexus lot of work to do with you.

You know you know this view clearly very raw material that looks like she wanted to questions of bad.

It was actually quite good and then start preceded that lends to tell me all the sort of reasons not to hire me and then immediately offered me the job sensible now being offered a job interview.

I might think I've got a Sunday I think about it and how you so so so what you know? What were you thinking salary wise no one but I couldn't go below the minimum.

You advertised it out.

Cos I literally just don't think.

I could live on it ok that you can have the minimum really slick acac still there, but it was a great first bus E1 to do like a good B2B magazine in USB it wanted exclusives turns out people really care about supermarket.

So if you break a good story you know you get on the BBC at the newspapers pick it up and say it was great fun and they they were kind of quite happy to sort of have this annoying kind of precocious 21-year old and just keep promoting me to keep me so I think they made me Chief reporter when I was 22 and the youngest on the team and so got absolutely sarcastically called chief by everyone for the entire ship my time there, but they would let you break scoops and have fun and enjoy some sort of the supermarkets even I know the sort of my head is suet have the chief exec.

Supermarkets like screaming down the phone at him.

So yeah, we'll be very seriously disciplines.

You know you don't worry.

I just got it back a bit James could they let me freelance for the nationals at the weekends side sell sell into the sort of times on Sunday Telegraph all that kind of stuff.

So they launch the bureau of investigative journalism launched way back in 2010 and basically I still suspect it was my city tutor David Lee who is and what my editor of The Guardian for a while.

So I've told them I was someone to interview and so I moved I move there and they of course someone on their boards Need You LeAnn Assange and say they got hold of the server rack material and an sounds poached me from the Bureau so I went sort of from you know being a business reporter in Crawley late.

I do recommend the grocer to anyone starting out.

Great place to work and I went from being a business reporter in Crawley to development producer and still barely know what development producers are but I was 14 years love same person as people say is he can be his very close and is very charismatic.

I mean there's always something old about him, but I mean investigative journalists and the people around investigative journalism and whistleblowers all tend to be weird except me.

Obviously I can confirm to Alison's that you're not with such as well.

So you know me but you still have to be in a Whistleblower so people who are going against the grain of an organisation and most of us don't like doing that we don't like going against people who are some friends or colleagues too much invested jealous.

You got to Hayley obsessive.

You got some really Wade through tons and tons of boring stuff and just keep going keep going no long past any normal person would want to get on with the

And so you tend to find lots of people in this area vast range of a megalomaniac is do you know this is a thing it's easy to see why Julie would at least get benefit of the doubt because he is worse.

He is a narcissist.

He is a liar.

I mean a serial liar and there's quite good reason to think he did some good.

I really quite potentially serious crime.

This is the wrong end in Sweden and those women will never get their day in court and the whole logic is just ridiculous is like trying to reason with trump supporters.

You know that you want to see said you can't reason someone out of the position that there's not reason themselves into and for me that that that they he seems to believe that he's under house arrest, please and of course is a fugitive his son of one of these people who will tell you a lie about something you were therefore.

Are you go gaslighting then? Yeah?

Feel genuinely not seem to know whether he's trying to just get you to say the light or whether he's come to really believe it and so all the best Liars believe their own stuff and so I think sometimes Julian knows he's lying when he starts but then just event she forgets that detail so sort of the day.

We're talking.

He's just released 5000 word confidential not for publication statement to dozens of Media outlets around the world.

I'm about 140 statements that you can't say about Julian Assange because they're libellous, so it's just this long long list of stuff.

I've been say it says he's it's lifeless cullybackey.

He's literally been to prison for hacking and His Orchestra the evolve of it is I'm a vegan.

I'm a big fan of Pamela Anderson because she's an animal rights activist criticizing sounds on Twitter and she blocked me because of it blocked by Pamela Anderson off of

A watch that is genuinely need to blocking me you know I'm going to check this now.

So WikiLeaks has blocked me but and they said that I work for MI5 which ice imagine MI5 if if they are still pay my PAYE tax the pulley bit ticked off over the stage and sing who haven't been incredible is outside the studio.

They won't be my five hats they will make you edit that out though.

I mean you know unless cutbacks of Man day is get you know they've just slipped up.

You've got a book out haven't you should I stay or should I go away Tuesday if you stay 2 facts and science to answer the most famous questions in pop songs in fact.

It's cold pop science in the US is it not it will be when it's area.

Tell her listeners about your latest book.

I feel like I'm Parkinson interviewing Robert Redford like to Herne what it says a little bit less investigative the most if I do I think just just sort of a special covering brexit most of the last year you know it's olive did brexit.

And two big Russia investigations and I have only a bit as well as shared and so I used to be the data editor of The Guardian and so sort of fat.

You know maths number starts all of that stuff.

I so they tend to get a little bit overly into and so we said I did a whole book promised on me having no sense of humour and basically it just takes questions in songs immensely literally added a try to answer them or fat Jacks them family by the home and so it came off one late night tweet from a friend of mine are Nicky Wolff are given he climbs a night next the book of her because it is from his drunken treat.

I should name check him at least and he was going home from from a party in San Francisco so just as I was waking up and he decided to fact check the song Miss Jackson you know I'm sorry Ms Jackson I am for real and he said he apologized as a trillian times he tried to do.

Good maths on how long it would take to apologise 2 trillion times as a slight spoiler he didn't he is not for real.

He is lying to Miss Jackson he apologise way fewer times than that but he meant figuratively remember technically correct is the best form of career exactly and so unfortunately for Nicky because he was drunk eBay dinera these mats by forgetting that weeks have 7 days in them not one discounted to be fired exactly so I fact checked him and then other people just started asking me questions from songs that say I was just messing around on Twitter doing one line answers from them and then Janine Gibson her again was then my boss BuzzFeed where I worked at the time and now she basically just so they shouted across the office and then treated well James I know you're not this blatantly pissing around on work time.

Should I tell you see me doing these sir to collect them together through a boat for a piece of you.

I like yes, of course course and is essentially her giving me a morning digging much Lighter Story that I usually work on the desk and intelligence services Christmas a better retreats and a publisher got in touch start of the literally Christmas Eve and kind of said moving really like this.

Do you think you could do it but cleanse and so sort of ended up going really excessive on it.

I'm in the thing is it's properly researched am excited to read any way that it really doesn't need to be so that's the whole point today.

I imagined she only listeners.

Have it all looking through medical journals for like the volume of a human Tia there are like academic psychology studies in it.

We actually ended up commissioning original YouGov polling for some of the questions really nice propose the 1981 census to look up population.

Veranda pina colada song so it it was really good fun.

Just to do something a bit later, but cos cos it's quite it's a shorter book because it's a Christmas but kind of thing in if I can decide would be less work for the normal one and it wasn't no babe.

I thought of over research.

It wasn't that office if not a magnet is it was her it was still sort of really excessive IBF what are you doing now what you wanted next so I guess so sort of the same question really im getting ready to finish another bloody Burke which I can't properly talk about you, but some last letter sent for the price.

It's about who controls the internet and how the internet controls and it's got bits and pieces of stuff.

I've been working on for years and was next in after the book.

What do you want to be like you said after the Only Way is down in the plastic.

Isn't exactly frankly so if you don't pay the bills keeping my cats in the lifestyle to it.

So accustomed the cats in the pair of the NSA their part of the leaves of Illinois almost definitely they're both pretty malevolent.

You know anyone who knows they're menacing creatures my cat's but no I mean in short of offers given that you've done some pretty amazing things now.

Yes, I'll take the job but I work for minimum wage.

I think once once the books then that's that's the interesting thing of do I want to go back into a Newsroom full time and study audio what a carry on with the freelancing saying I haven't actually decided that one yet, but I've got a few months to do it because I do have to finish the bloody Burke and then presumably hopefully do some promotion for it but

But yes, it's it's a nice set of options to have at the moment.

You know it's it's not like we sort of things to investigate either is it will the world is not sure of Romans no, no, it's not it's a vestigial.

Is it busy day when things are good for investigative journalist.

It's awful for everyone else so yeah, sorry about that everyone.

Would you do some kind of corporate investigative journalism like for example if KFC it claiming that is 7 herbs and spices maybe it's just six the secret formula for Coca-Cola excetera it so I wouldn't do it working for the corporates, but I've done plenty of stuff looking into business.

That's that's much more fun.

You know so HSBC offshore Rochelle's bribery are all that kinda stuff.

I quite like the might be the might be one or two investigations are working so yeah.

We might have a bit of fun with some of those soon.

Are you tempted with your Groucho Marx aphorism ways is look these are my principles madam but if you don't like them over others.

Unidays extremely rich people in business and Commerce I don't know his private everything what actually I don't want to beat them.

I want to join them.

I had I had once a very misplaced attempt to bribe me when I was saying when I actually when I was in WikiLeaks I'll have to keep the details for heat for legal reasons, but we will sort of meeting having this meeting and wooseok pretty getting more and more sure there's that kept asking what would make you happy you know what could you know? What could we do well? Why don't why don't you know next time we meet why don't you come out to meet us in Dubai will put you up in a 7 star hotel you know but some nice food lots nice things there lots of nice girls like you have not done your research guys regular basis there, but some are you know it's always put someone's trying to bribe you suggest that you're not happy with the price never suggest that your incorruptible because that's a bit.

Dangerous, but no I mean if you look on the internet, you'll find plenty of for people who are supports of WikiLeaks so various son of far right or far left groups are really don't like me.

They will tell you I'm usually bought and I've been bought and sold dozens of times but in reality I just I think I'm too stubborn.

I just don't it.

Just doesn't motivate me some really nice gems your Legend thank you ever so much free time.

Thanks very much for having me in association with big things Media

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