Big Story Timeline
Exaro Website Launched
Exaro was launched in October 2011 by a talented team of journalists backed by UK Entrepreneur Jerome Booth. Exaro specialised in carrying out in-depth investigations. Its journalistic creed was “Holding Power to Account.” It set out to produce “evidence-based, open-access journalism – not spin, not churnalism, not hacking – just journalism about what should be transparent but isn’t.”
The Guardian Plaudit
In the Leveson Inquiry witness Nick Davies, a journalist from The Guardian, described Exaro’s then editor-in-chief Mark Watts’ book The Fleet Street Sewer Rat as “the best single source, hugely detailed, of information about the dark arts of journalism.”
Civil Service Tax Avoidance
On 1 February 2012 an investigation by Exaro revealed that the UK’s Student Loans Company was paying its chief executive, Ed Lester, through a private company, enabling him to reduce his tax bill by tens of thousands of pounds. The day after the story broke the Chief Secretary of the Treasury, Danny Alexander was summoned to the House of Commons for an urgent debate. He announced a review of all civil service contracts. Read the Story
Best Investigative Journalism
In June 2012, Exaro was commended in the Best Investigative Journalism category of the Online Media Awards.
In June 2012, Exaro outed Kroll Inc. as having convinced the City of London police to instigate an unnecessary investigation costing £1 million to protect the reputation of one of its clients. Read the Story
Military Intervention in Syria
In July 2011 a RUSI expert told Exaro that the chances of foreign military incursion into Syria to secure chemical weapons had risen to “more than 50 per cent”. The same month Exaro also reported that hawks in the US administration were pressing for military intervention to topple the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Exaro broke the news that the UK Foreign Office negotiated a secret deal with the Libyan government to pay £450m to IRA victims. Read the Story
Bribery in Defence Contracts
In August 2012 the Serious Fraud Office launched a criminal investigation into bribery allegations in connection with a UK-Saudi Arabian defence contract between the EADS subsidiary GPT Special Project Management, and the Saudi Arabian National Guard. Exaro persistently investigated the allegations, writing more than 20 stories over seven months before the SFO launched its criminal investigation. Read the Story
David Hencke Wins the Political Journalist of the Year
Exaro senior reporter David Hencke won the Political Journalist of the Year 2012 award for his work uncovering tax avoidance in the civil service. Hencke was longlisted for the Orwell prize for political journalism in 2014. Read the Story
Elm Guest House Child Abuse Investigation
Exaro journalist David Hencke passed Tom Watson MP claims, later discredited, that child abuse had taken place at Elm Guest House in Barnes in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Watson raised the allegations in parliament and the police subsequently launched a scoping exercise under the name “Operation Fairbank”. Five Metropolitan Police officers considered allegations relating to Elm Guest House, and other allegations gathered by Watson. Later a full-scale criminal investigation specifically addressing allegations relating to Elm Guest House was launched under the name “Operation Fernbridge”. Operation Fernbridge was subsequently closed with no prosecutions being brought in connection with child abuse at Elm Guest House. Read the Story
European Press Prize Editor
Exaro’s former editor-in-chief Mark Watts was nominated for the European Press Prize Editor of the Year for 2012. The nomination described Exaro as “an insightful, agenda setting website.” It credited the site for its “serious investigative journalism” saying “this is not standard, not-for-profit journalism, but document-based, niche performance at a high level of expertise.”
British Journalism Awards
Exaro was shortlisted for two 2013 British Journalism Awards. Exaro’s expose of Rupert Murdoch was shortlisted for Story of the Year, and reporter Fiona O’Cleirigh was nominated for New Journalist of the Year for her series that revealed how Northern Irish and Irish government officials gave £1.3 million to former IRA members in a serious of suspicious deals.
In partnership with Channel 4 news, Exaro revealed secretly recorded tapes of Rupert Murdoch talking to The Sun journalists, criticising the “incompetent cops” who handled the phone-hacking investigation and promising to take care of any journalist that had broken the law. Murdoch reportedly characterized the inquiry as a fuss over nothing “Why are the police behaving in this way? It’s the biggest inquiry ever, over next to nothing. Read the Story
Police Privately Admit ‘Cover-Up’
In a story by Alex Varley-Winter officers reveal in closed online forum secrets of how sensitive operations were closed. Several former police officers admitted in a private online forum that paedophile investigations by Scotland Yard were closed down as they started to expose VIPs. They made a series of explosive comments over four months in a closed forum for former and serving officers in the Metropolitan Police Service. A forum member gave Exaro access to a series of discussion threads in which 14 participants talk about a cover-up of paedophiles at the top of UK society. One former detective posted: “It went to cabinet level.” Read the Story
Alexander Litvinenko Interviews
Alexander Litvinenko’s police interviews undermine Met case. The Russian dissident revealed to detectives how he drank ‘polonium-laced tea’ by chance. Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko gave interviews to police on his deathbed that undermine the official story of how he was killed. While in intensive care, Litvinenko gave an account to two detectives from Scotland Yard of how, by chance, he came to drink a few sips of green tea, which police believe was laced with radioactive polonium. Read the Story
Nomination for Exaro and Sunday People Jointly
Exaro and the Sunday People have been jointly nominated in the newspaper industry’s Press Awards for ‘news team of the year’. The nomination is for a series of stunning scoops last year on the ‘Westminster paedophile network’. Exaro and the Sunday People worked together on the stories. It is highly unusual for a website to be nominated in the Press Awards because these are only for newspapers, but Exaro’s work on this investigation has featured heavily in the Sunday People over the past two years. Read the Story
Tony Blair’s Lobbying for Palestinian Deal
Declassified letter from Quartet’s envoy shows how ex-prime minister prioritised project, story by David Hencke. Tony Blair prioritised a lucrative telecommunications contract as part of his role as Middle East envoy, a declassified confidential letter reveals. The deal for a mobile-telephone network for the Palestinian market was sought by Qtel, a company mostly owned by Qatar and a client of JP Morgan, the bank where Blair is an advisor reportedly on £2 million a year. But the former British prime minister, who is under pressure to quit as the Quartet’s envoy, says that he did not know about JP Morgan’s link to the Palestinian contract. Read the Story
Best Investigative Journalism Nominations
Online Media Awards shortlisted Exaro with three nominations. Exaro was finalist for ‘best investigative journalism’, ‘breaking news story’ and ‘top editor’. “The judges were very impressed with what they saw” – Online Media Awards Exaro has won three nominations in this year’s Online Media Awards for its outstanding journalism. We have been named as a finalist in the awards for ‘best campaigning or investigative journalism’ for work that led to the overarching inquiry into child sex abuse. We have also been shortlisted for ‘breaking news story of the year’ for: ‘Operation Midland’ investigates Tory MP over boy’s murder. Read the Story
Mark Watts RT Video
Exaro Editor-in-Chief, Mark Watts. talks with George Galloway about investigation into UK’s massive scandal. Editor-in-Chief Mark Watts appeared on Russia Today to discuss with former MP George Galloway Exaro’s exposure of an enormous scandal in the UK. Exaro has led the uncovering of the ‘Westminster paedophile network’, forcing the authorities and the mainstream media in the UK to focus on the issue of child sex abuse by powerful people. Speaking on Galloway’s programme on Russia Today, Sputnik, Watts said: “This is, undoubtedly, the biggest political scandal in post-War Britain.” Galloway said: “This story would be nowhere as important as it now is, and it still has a long way to go to match its importance, if it were not for Exaro.” Watch the Video
Wanted by Interpol
Wanted by Interpol: ‘Mr Fixit’ for Westland’s €560m Indian deal. Christian Michel under ‘red notice’ as India’s CBI seeks his extradition over bribery claims. Interpol has issued a “red notice” for the arrest of a British businessman implicated in a bribery scandal over a UK defence contract in India. India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) wants Christian Michel to be seized and extradited for prosecution over allegations of running a slush fund of €30 million linked to a €560 million deal that was secured by AgustaWestland, the Anglo-Italian helicopter manufacturer. According to Interpol’s red notice, the Indian authorities want Michel on charges of “criminal conspiracy, cheating, illegal gratification and abuse of official position”. Read the Story
Margaret Thatcher urged knighthood for ‘lurid’ Jimmy Savile. Janet Smith’s review: PM pressed to make him ‘Sir Jimmy’ despite his ‘confessions’. Dame Janet Smith takes a swipe at Lady Thatcher for persisting as prime minister in recommending a knighthood for Jimmy Savile despite long-running objections. In the draft report of Smith’s “review” of the late Savile’s sexual attacks at the BBC, which has been leaked to Exaro, the retired judge recounts how the honours committee initially advised against it because of “lurid details” about him revealed in an interview that he gave to The Sun in 1983. Read the Story
NHS Data Breaches
The NHS suffered 105 security breaches over personal data in year. Failures over patients’ information nearly double at hospitals and other NHS bodies. Security breaches over personal data held by the NHS nearly doubled to more than 100 during the last financial year, Exaro can reveal. Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that there were 105 such breaches in hospitals and other bodies in the National Health Service in the financial year 2014-15. This was an increase of 81 per cent on the previous year, with 58 security breaches over personal data.
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Exaro owner, Jerome Booth shuts down Exaro due to changes at parent company New Sparta. Some Exaro staff believed owner, Jerome Booth was in financial difficulty, while others cited the strained relationship between Mark Watts and Jerome Booth as the cause of closure. One thing is certain, Jerome Booth ploughed a lot of money into Exaro, which operated as part of his New Sparta group, which runs businesses in areas such as insurance, asset management and business media.
Exaro Back From the Dead
Davide Hencke writes, the British companies, Exaronews Ltd and Exaro Holdings Ltd were both dissolved by June 21 this year (2018) ending the existence of Exaro News as an entity in the UK. However the website was put up for auction and is now owned by a Brit living in North America. As a result the news site has been relaunched under new management outside UK jurisdiction. The current site is running with a standard newsfeed. The good news for readers of this blog is that almost the entire archive of Exaro from 2011 to 2016 has been put back on the internet by the new owner.
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Brutal Assault on Restrained Teenager
A security video obtained from Guelph General Hospital went viral this week and has been viewed by millions on Twitter, LiveLeak, Facebook and YouTube. For the third time, Corey McArthur a Guelph, ON police officer faced an assault charge this week. The officer was previously found guilty in 2010 and got away with an unconditional discharge, leaving him with no criminal record. In 2014 he was charged again with assault causing bodily harm, but he got away lightly yet again when the charge was withdrawn.
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Arrest Made in 2017 Shootings
Arrest made in 2017 shootings of Angelo Musitano and Mila Barberi. Hamilton police in Ontario, Canada today confirmed an arrest has been made in the 2017 shooting homicides of Angelo Musitano and Mila Barberi. Hamilton Police Service Major Crime Unit. RCMP Hamilton-Niagara detachment and York Regional Police Service set up a joint task force following Musitano’s death in May 2017. Police unearthed a connection between Musitano’s murder, the slaying of Barberi, 28, and attempted murder of her boyfriend, Saverio Serrano. Police believing Serrano was the intended target in the incident.
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MI5, MI6, and GCHQ Disclosures
Requests have been submitted by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) to MI5, MI6 and GCHQ to establish whether the spy agencies hold documentation of relevance to issues relating to Westminster child abuse allegations. At an IICSA hearing on October 30, it was stated that “The possibility that the security and intelligence agencies may have been involved, in one way or another, in covering up Westminster-related child abuse allegations is a matter of serious public concern. Addressing that concern is one of the core tasks of this investigation.
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The Man Formerly Known as ‘Nick’
The man formerly known as ‘Nick’ who claimed he was a victim of an alleged “Westminster Paedophile Ring” had his real identity revealed as Carl Stephen Beech, after a judge lifted reporting restrictions. Beech triggered Operation Midland, a huge Metropolitan Police investigation costing £2.5 million (US$3.2 million) in the UK after alleging MP’s and others had run a VIP paedophile ring, making allegations against politicians Sir Edward Heath, Lord Brittan and Harvey Proctor and the ex-chief of the defence staff, Lord Bramall.
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Obstruction of Justice
Did Premier Ford Oversee the Obstruction of Justice? At 8AM this morning, beneath a bewildering cluster of alleged dishonesty and political exploitation Supt. Ronald Taverner of the Toronto Police Service was supposed to present himself for duty at Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Headquarters taking the reins of Ontario’s largest police service, making him the ‘top cop’ in the Province. On Friday, Taverner released the following statement, “Out of the greatest of respect for the brave men and women of The Ontario Provincial Police, I am requesting my appointment as Commissioner be postponed until as such time the Integrity Commissioner has completed his review.”
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Julian Assange of WikiLeaks
The U.S. Department of Justice today confirmed that “the founder of WikiLeaks, was arrested today in the United Kingdom pursuant to the U.S./UK Extradition Treaty, in connection with a federal charge of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion for agreeing to break a password to a classified U.S. government computer.” According to court documents unsealed today, the charge relates to Assange’s alleged role in one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States.
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The Bottom Line
“Exaro is patient, prowling and persistent! If you’re in a position of power and you’re corrupt we might be writing about you next so please come back soon.”
— Adam Sculthorpe, Believer in Exaro