is an award-winning journalist
, currently working as an investigative journalist
for the BBC
Before joining the BBC in 2001, Sweeney worked for twelve years at The Observer,
where he covered wars and revolutions in more than sixty countries including Romania
Barclay brothers suit
In 1996, John Sweeney was sued for criminal defamation
in France by the Barclay brothers
, owners of the Daily Telegraph
, but the claimants lost their case. At the time, Sweeney worked for the rival newspaper The Observer
, and had given an interview on BBC Radio Guernsey alleging that they had been involved in corruption
. Since the broadcast could also be heard in northern France, the claimants were able to bring their claim in the French courts. Sweeney was ordered to pay €3000 by the appeal court in Rennes
John Sweeney reported on mass graves in Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe for the BBC in 2002. Mugabe had banned BBC reporters from the country, forcing Sweeney to hide in a car boot in order to travel to a meeting with the Leader of the Opposition.
Cot death investigation
John Sweeney spent four years investigating the cases of Sally Clark
, Angela Cannings
and Donna Anthony
, three women who had been falsely imprisoned for killing their children. Sweeney's investigation helped to clear their names, and lead to Sir Roy Meadow
, the expert witness whose testimony had proved decisive in their convictions, being temporarily struck off the General Medical Council
's medical register. Sweeney received the Paul Foot Award
in 2005 in recognition of his work.
Investigative report on Scientology
"Scientology and Me
", a Panorama
investigation into Scientology
written and presented by Sweeney, was aired on BBC One
on Monday, 14 May 2007
. Prior to its airing, video footage filmed by the Church of Scientology
was released on YouTube
and on DVD
that showed Sweeney shouting at Scientology representative Tommy Davis
during a visit to CCHR
's "Psychiatry: An Industry of Death
". The clips were sections of a documentary the Church of Scientology's Freedom Magazine TV
produced about the BBC Panorama programme..
Sweeney remarked that he lost his temper due to days of harassment by Davis and the Church, and a strong personal reaction to the psychiatry exhibit. He had been visited at his hotel by Davis, despite not having shared the address with the Church, and had been followed on several different occasions. Sweeney labeled the clips "attack videos" and others say they were produced to discredit Sweeney and the documentary.
The BBC in response aired its own full recording of the incident. Panorama's Editor Sandy Smith explained what happened and how the BBC dealt with the incident in a post on the BBC's Editor's Blog. The edition attracted Panorama's highest audience of the current series so far.
- Sweeney, John (1991). The Life and Evil Times of Nicolae Ceausescu. Hutchinson. ISBN 0-091746-72-8.
- Sweeney, John (1993). Trading with the Enemy: Britain's Arming of Iraq. Pan Books. ISBN 0330331280.
- Sweeney, John (1998). Purple Homicide, Fear and Loathing on Knutsford Heath. Bloomsbury. ISBN 0-747539-70-7.
Sweeney has won several awards throughout his career, including: