Phil is an investigative journalist, producer and researcher. In 2019, he uncovered evidence that SAS sergeant Matt Tonroe – the only British soldier to die in Syria fighting Isis – was killed by friendly fire. In 2020, Pluto Press will publish Phil’s debut book, an exposé of Britain’s most powerful mercenary company.
He has written freelance articles for media outlets such as: The Times, Guardian, Private Eye, Vice, Mail on Sunday, Independent, Irish Times, Daily Record, iNews, Mirror, openDemocracy, Stabroek News (Guyana), Morning Star, New Humanist and New Internationalist.
Corporate Watch investigations:
Phil studied politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London before going into journalism. After university he spent several years working at the research group Corporate Watch where he investigated private security companies (G4S, Serco etc) and their implementation of Theresa May’s hostile environment policies towards migrants.
In 2015, he managed a secret filming investigation of Britain’s largest migrant detention centre, Harmondsworth, which revealed worsening conditions for detainees and staff. The footage was broadcast as a special report on Channel 4 News and triggered an emergency inspection by the chair of Parliament’s Home Affairs committee.
In another investigation he found that Home Office contractors were saving millions of pounds by making immigration detainees perform essential work in return for just £1 per hour. His research was made into a documentary, Working Illegally, and led to a legal challenge against the Home Office.
Phil also took the Home Office to court in a freedom of information battle for transparency over detention centre finances. The case revealed that contractors were penalised just £10,000 for a preventable death in their custody.
After leaving Corporate Watch, Phil travelled to Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia to make a documentary about refugee policy. He investigated allegations that Australian border guards had bribed people smugglers to turn back a refugee boat, and forced the refugees onto less sea worthy boats that later floundered. The investigation was broadcast in New Zealand and screened at the Nuremburg Human Rights Film Festival as Stop the Boats.
He was a specialist researcher on Callum Macrae’s BAFTA-nominated documentary, The Ballymurphy Precedent/Massacre at Ballymurphy, which was broadcast on Channel 4. The film investigated the killing of civilians by British soldiers in Belfast.
In 2018 he produced a short film in Belize for New Internationalist about the fatal shooting of one-legged man Antonio Alford by the British army, and investigated claims that the soldier responsible was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Archives and freedom of information:
Phil has carried out extensive research at the UK National Archives, and found declassified letters that revealed Margaret Thatcher sent an SAS officer to advise the Indian Army on raiding the Golden Temple in Amritsar ahead of a massacre of Sikh pilgrims in June 1984. This discovery triggered debates in the British and Indian parliaments, and led Prime Minister David Cameron to order two reviews into the declassification of government documents, by Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood and by former head of the Joint Intelligence Committee Sir Alex Allan. Phil later took the Cabinet Office to court to force the disclosure of more secret documents from this episode.
He is an experienced user of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and exposed a loophole whereby the National Police Chief’s Council could avoid FOIA appeals, which led to Parliament changing the law. He is currently taking the Police Service of Northern Ireland to the information tribunal demanding access to a secret report about the Troubles allegedly written by an MI5 officer.