Welcome to my Website.
I always find it a bit tricky when I have to fill in a form and come to that box which asks for my profession, and I suppose this website is one way of answering the question.
I’ve been lucky enough to do a lot of things, but I suppose most of my life has been as a journalist, first on radio and then on tv. After a couple of decades covering elections, natural disasters and wars, getting into the usual journalistic scrapes (a life sentence for spying in Turkey wasn’t fun, nor was the threat of a battlefield execution in Vietnam) until I began to specialise in miscarriages of justice – influenced by my friend and mentor, the great Sir Ludovic Kennedy. Rough Justice at the BBC, and then Trial and Error with Channel 4 gave me a wonderful opportunity to combine my concern for the wrongly convicted with the creative pleasure of writing stories and working in a team of programme makers. When television changed – as it has always done – there was less room for that sort of uncomfortable programming, and the broadcasters could always say that the creation of the Criminal Cases Review Commission in 1997 relieved television of the responsibility of exposing injustice. I joined the CCRC as a Commissioner in 2000, with a posh royal warrant and – for the first time in my life – an office and a desk of my own. Ten years there, with official powers to examine sensitive and secret documents, taught me that as journalists we often know only half the story – but that there is no substitute for a journalistic instinct for the truth. During those ten years I kept half a foot in television, as a part-time newsreader on BBC World TV – it’s hardly a fulltime job for a grown-up - enjoying the five-hour graveyard shifts with their capacity for calamity and cockup.
Meanwhile, I wrote a couple of books with Anne Moir; BrainSex was the first popular book to explore the science behind brain differences in men and women – quite a sensitive topic in the early 90’s, and A Mind to Crime which explored the link between offending behaviour, brain structure and hormones. I also wrote up some miscarriage of justice case studies in Trial and Error, a book which also played its part in landing me in court – one of two occasions when I was unsuccessfully sued by the police.
In 2010 The Times wrote a nice fullpage article about me hanging up my campaigning boots, which sounded a bit like a first stab at an obituary, but I’m still busy writing – another BrainSex book, articles on justice issues, and an autobiographical ramble – you can read a rough draft of my life as a newsreader by following the Books link.
I’ve become involved in the world of regulation, as a member of the Advertising Standards Authority’s advisory committee, and currently as a Tribunal Member at PhonePay+ - the organisation which polices the ever-expanding use of the telephone to buy and sell services.
I’ve contributed to many media training outfits over the years, and have created my own media familiarisation and training service tailor-made for specialist clients. It’s a one-man band, which means that I can spend the clients’ money on finding out what they really want and need, where their strengths and weaknesses are, rather than putting them through a few standardised hours of irrelevant, make-believe media-monstering.
Four children, fighting the mares-tail on a couple of acres of meadowland, and trying to find the time and money to indulge my enthusiasm for Glyndebourne and Italy help to fill in any free time I might otherwise have.
So you see why I have a bit of trouble filling in the Profession box.
Please keep in touch – whether it’s business or pleasure – and thanks for your interest.