This page highlights some investigations. Issues of interest include the far right, Islamist extremism, femicide, fracking, human trafficking, animal welfare and the arms trade.
Many of my reports can be read at The Ferret, a not-for-profit website in Scotland dedicated to investigative journalism - theferret.scot
Major stories include -
Sunday Mail - An expose with colleague Russell Findlay revealing Britain sold nerve gas chemicals to Syria, 10 months after its civil war started. The report won Scoop of The Year at the 2015 Scottish Press Awards.
The Ferret/Daily Record - An undercover investigation with Jamie Mann, exposing links between neo-nazi groups Scottish Dawn and National Action. Scottish Dawn was later proscribed as a terrorist organisation by the UK Government.
Sunday Mail - An undercover investigation in Pakistan exposing so-called ‘militant madrassas’ and links to the Pakistan Taliban.
Mail On Sunday/Sunday Herald - A story revealing links between Austria’s Freedom Party (FPÖ) and neo-nazis. The report included an interview with a former SS officer who founded the FPÖ called Herbert Schweiger. He was arrested after the report was published.
The Herald Magazine/The Sydney Morning Herald - An investigation revealing the scale of human trafficking in Burkina Faso, West Africa. 25 girls were later rescued.
The Sunday Post - A story revealing Scots council pension funds invested at least £138m with finance companies bankrolling Donald Trump’s private immigration detention industry.
Scotland On Sunday - An investigation in conjunction with the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Jerusalem, revealing that a suspected war criminal from Hungary was living under a false name in Scotland.
The Herald Magazine - An investigation into neo-nazism in Russia. The report won two awards from Amnesty International.
The above articles can be read if you scroll down. They are listed alongside other reports on the same theme.
INVESTIGATING THE FAR RIGHT
A number of extreme far right groups have appeared on Scotland's streets over the last few years. They include Scottish Dawn, a neo-Nazi group banned by the UK Government in 2017 following an undercover investigation I did with Jamie Mann for The Ferret. Below is a selection of reports on Scottish based extremists.
The Ferret/Daily Record - Revealed: neo-Nazi terrorists are behind Scotland’s newest far right group
The Ferret - Revealed: Scottish links to neo-Nazi riot
Daily Record/The Ferret - Revealed: company director’s secret life as a neo-Nazi
Scotland On Sunday - Revealed: the Scots pensioner and the Nazi war crimes investigation
In England, the rise of the far right is frightening. Extremists include the English Defence League, an anti-Muslim group responsible for violence over many years. I investigated the EDL after it came to the fore in 2008 when masked men, mostly football hooligans, took to the streets of Luton. Reports below.
Mail On Sunday - This is England: On the trail of the English Defence League
The Sydney Morning Herald - UK's far right on the march
Al Jazeera - Racism on the rise in Europe
Austria has witnessed far right political parties gaining prominence over the past decade. The Freedom Party, or FPO, is today in a coalition government but has long been linked to neo-Nazis. Angie Catlin and exposed the party's links to fascism in 2009. Our report for Mail On Sunday's Live Magazine is below.
Mail On Sunday - The far right is on the march again: the rise of Fascism in Austria
My second trip abroad as a reporter was to Russia in 2004 with Angie Catlin to investigate a sharp rise in murders by neo-Nazis. My report for The Herald Magazine won two awards from Amnesty International. PDF below, hard copy is available on request.
The Herald Magazine - The Iron Fist of Hate
UK ARMS TRADE
I've investigated the UK's arms trade since around 2012, reporting how Britain secretly sells weaponry, including smart bombs made in Scotland, to states accused of war crimes and human rights abuses. Some examples below.
Sunday Mail - Revealed: Saddam firm buys Britain's nerve gas chemicals
The Ferret - Investigation into alleged Yemen war crime: 97 killed
The Ferret - Exclusive footage of alleged war crime in Yemen
The Ferret - MPs investigate use of British bombs in Yemen’s war
Sunday Mail/The Ferret - Code on bomb debris links Scots firms to alleged war crime
Amnesty International issued a report in 2004 to highlight a staggering increase in the number of women murdered in Guatemala. The figure had increased by more than 400 percent since 2002. In 2005, the fourth consecutive year the total had risen, 665 deaths were registered. The death toll for 2006 was 672, according to the Guatemalan Human Rights Commission.
That total equated to nearly two women killed every day. Moreover, up to 70 percent of female homicides were not investigated and no arrests were made in 97 percent of cases, according to Guatemala’s Human Rights Ombudsman, Frank La Rue. My story was published by Guernica Magazine, based in New York City, USA, and later by Scotland On Sunday's Spectrum Magazine. The former report can be read below.
Guernica Magazine - The Price of Life: an investigation into femicide in Guatemala
In 2011, I made a trip to the West African state of Burkina Faso with Angie Catlin. Our investigation followed a report I'd written for Scotland On Sunday about a Nigerian girl who'd been trafficked to Scotland and raped. Follow-up enquiries resulted in a tip-off that Burkina Faso was suffering one of the worst trafficking problems in Africa, an issue linked to the UK, and elsewhere in Europe, but largely unreported. Working with local NGOs we spent two weeks documenting the issue, and we witnessed the rescue of two teenagers from traffickers. 25 girls were later repatriated, thanks to donations from church goers in Scotland.
The Herald Magazine - Exposed – human trafficking for the sex industry in Burkina Faso
The Sydney Morning Herald - The Sydney Morning Herald: Sold into a life of despair
The Guardian - Burkina Faso: Human Trafficking in west Africa - in pictures
Illegal fox hunting became an issue of interest after witnessing riders brazenly flouting the law, with Police Scotland often appearing to act as a private security force for hunts instead of upholding the law. Covert operations have involved working with animal welfare investigators who often put themselves at risk to expose criminality.
The Sunday Post -Terrified sheep filmed fleeing fox hunt hounds
Daily Record -Secret filming alleges illegal fox hunting
Sunday Herald/The Ferret - Probe launched into policing of fox hunts
*Please note, there is no suggestion that anyone pictured above has broken the law.
Are mountain hares an endangered species in Scotland? There's certainly a heated debate in Scotland at the moment, over the impact of mass culls by sporting estates, who kill hares to ensure that the grouse population remains healthy for commercial activities.
Illegal puppy farms are an issue of growing concern in Scotland but some licensed dog breeders also disregard animal welfare in the pursuit of profit. In 2017 I secretly filmed a number of premises to reveal puppies being kept in filthy conditions.
The Sunday Times/The Ferret -Revealed: Scotland’s filthy puppy farms
PAKISTAN'S 'MILITANT MADRASAS'
In 2016 I visited Pakistan with Angie Catlin to report on Islamist terrorism and its impact on the city of Peshawar in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. During the trip we gained entry to two 'militant madrasas' while working undercover. One of them is called Panjpir, a seminary where Mullah Fazlullah, the former leader of the Pakistan Taliban, studied an extreme form of Islam derived from Wahhabism. This strand of Islam is the dominant faith in Saudi Arabia. Fazlullah was killed by a US drone strike in 2018.
Our series of reports including stories for The Guardian, Al Jazeera, New Zealand Herald and the BBC.
In Scotland, the Sunday Mail newspaper published a two-part special report over two weekends. The second report exposed so-called ‘militant madrassas’ with links to the Pakistan Taliban. Our report was nominated for a Scottish Press Award. It isn’t online but a PDF is available on request.
The Ferret has investigated fracking since its inception in 2015. It was our first major investigation, in fact, thanks to the generosity of supporters who donated money to a crowdfunding campaign. Since 2015 we’ve produced more than 40 reports on the issue, many of them multimedia.
You can read these reports here - https://theferret.scot/?s=FRACKING
Other issues investigated include the undercover policing scandal, aka 'spycops', fish welfare, government business grants and council pension fund investments. I also exposed the cost to the taxpayer of Boris Johnson's 2016 trip to Afghanistan, allegedly to dodge a crucial Westminster vote. The Ferret's exclusive was followed up most UK titles including The Guardian and the Financial Times.
The Sunday Post: Scottish pension funds linked to Trump’s border jails