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I used to work for them myself

David Leigh, 4 August 1983

British Intelligence and Covert Action: Africa, the Middle East and Europe since 1945 
by Jonathan Bloch, Patrick Fitzgerald and Philip Agee.
Junction, 284 pp., £5.95, May 1983, 0 86245 113 2
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Through the Looking-Glass: British Foreign Policy in an Age of Illusions 
by Anthony Verrier.
Cape, 400 pp., £12.50, February 1983, 0 224 01979 1
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... Glancing through the list of 131 named MI6 officers, past and present, who are ‘exposed’ in the first of these books, I noticed with mild interest that I was slightly acquainted with the wife of one of them, a certain Hubert O’Bryan Tear. The next time we met, I mentioned this fact and she laughed merrily. ‘Oh yes,’ she said. ‘Everybody knows that – at least since he retired ...


Paul Foot, 2 March 1989

The Wilson Plot: The Intelligence Services and the Discrediting of a Prime Minister 
by David Leigh.
Heinemann, 271 pp., £12.95, November 1988, 0 434 41340 2
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A Price too High 
by Peter Rawlinson.
Weidenfeld, 284 pp., £16, March 1989, 0 297 79431 0
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... had produced not a glimpse of Wilsonia. Many years later, inspired by the Spycatcher revelations, David Leigh of the Observer has set out on the journey once more. There is no one better qualified. All through the awful Eighties David Leigh has kept the flag of investigative journalism fluttering high. He has a ...

Official Secrecy

Andrew Boyle, 18 September 1980

The Frontiers of Secrecy 
by David Leigh.
Junction, 291 pp., £9.95, August 1980, 0 86245 002 0
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... mind in Whitehall because, while it is implied throughout his absorbing and well-researched book, David Leigh has refrained from going into the historical origins of Whitehall’s almost pathological obsession with secrecy. A young investigative journalist, with a healthy distaste for oligarchy in a country which boasts too much about its imagined ...

Dear Mohamed

Paul Foot, 20 February 1997

Sleaze: The Corruption of Parliament 
by David Leigh and Ed Vulliamy.
Fourth Estate, 263 pp., £9.99, January 1997, 1 85702 694 2
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... The cover-up was carefully supervised by the Tory Whips office, in particular by two young MPs, David ‘Two Brains’ Willetts and Andrew Mitchell, whose father, David Mitchell, is also a Tory MP, and once chose Neil Hamilton to be his Parliamentary Private Secretary. The Guardian had told a bit of the story. Parliament ...

Leading the Labour Party

Arthur Marwick, 5 November 1981

Michael Foot: A Portrait 
by Simon Hoggart and David Leigh.
Hodder, 216 pp., £8.95, September 1981, 0 340 27600 2
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... their sympathies and ambitions, to enter directly into the upper circles of the Party. Hoggart and Leigh define Michael Foot’s class position in various ways, usually involving that much abused label ‘middle class’. Grandfather was a carpenter and undertaker, who made enough money to build a mission hall and see his son, Michael Foot’s ...

Getting it right

Tam Dalyell, 18 July 1985

The Ponting Affair 
by Richard Norton-Taylor.
Cecil Woolf, 144 pp., £5.95, June 1985, 0 900821 74 4
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Who Killed Hilda Murrell? 
by Judith Cook.
New English Library, 182 pp., £1.95, June 1985, 0 450 05885 9
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... Party up and down the country, there was no way which the professors of Belgrano Studies, as David Frost has christened us, could have carried on. Many a crusade has been smothered by the great big yawn of the British public. Norton-Taylor is not and never was Tam Dalyell’s or anyone else’s tame journalist. On the contrary, he started by being ...

Prince and Pimp

Paul Foot, 1 January 1998

The Liar: The Fall of Jonathan Aitken 
by Luke Harding and David Leigh.
Penguin, 205 pp., £6.99, December 1997, 0 14 027290 9
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... Are we all bare-faced liars?’ The question came from Jonathan Aitken, Minister of State for Defence Procurement, in January 1994. It was put to the then editor of the Guardian, Peter Preston. The words ‘we all’ referred to Aitken himself, his wife Lolicia and his faithful Arab friend Said Ayas. The answer to the question was ‘yes’. They were all bare-faced liars, but none more so than the debonair minister himself ...

The Sultan and I

Anthony Howard, 1 June 1989

By God’s Will: A Portrait of the Sultan of Brunei 
by Lord Chalfont.
Weidenfeld, 200 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 297 79628 3
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The Richest Man in the World: The Sultan of Brunei 
by James Bartholomew.
Viking, 199 pp., £12.95, April 1989, 0 670 82152 7
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... supremo, Magnus Linklater, as well as by the two members of the Observer’s investigative unit, David Leigh and Paul Lashmar. I added my voice to theirs, urging vigilance and caution. To no avail, however – and perhaps understandably. On Saturday, 11 January 1986, Donald Trelford, the editor of the Observer, had spent a lot of time closeted in the ...

There is only one Harrods

Paul Foot, 23 September 1993

Tiny Rowland: A Rebel Tycoon 
by Tom Bower.
Heinemann, 659 pp., £16.99, May 1993, 0 434 07339 3
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... he felt the paper was becoming entirely an instrument of its owner’s business ambitions. So did David Leigh, the paper’s investigative reporter, who refused throughout to touch stories sourced by Rowland, even if he thought they were true. The clearest proof that all is not yet lost is this book ...


Andrew O’Hagan: Julian Assange, 6 March 2014

... Guardian. He said it would come from journalists he’d worked with there. He was obsessed with David Leigh and Nick Davies, two of the main reporters. ‘Davies is extremely hostile to me,’ Assange said. ‘The Guardian basically double-crossed the organisation in the worst way.’ (The Guardian denies this.) ‘We left them with a cache of cables ...

At the National Portrait Gallery

Andrew O’Hagan: Lucian Freud, 26 April 2012

... essentially the same substance, redolent of weight and mass gone wrong, of solidity petrified. Leigh Bowery never looked as much like Leigh Bowery as he does in Freud’s paintings of him. Seeing them in one room at the National Portrait Gallery, you forget that this Blitz Club kid was once the prince of ...

At the National Portrait Gallery

Peter Campbell: The Portraits of Angus McBean, 3 August 2006

... give a clarity which stood up well to imperfect reproduction in magazines: his idea of how Vivien Leigh should look, which must have been her idea too (‘Vivien Leigh would never have anyone else’), was presented to the world in good order. And perhaps because Leigh’s face came so ...

Deal of the Century

David Thomson: As Ovitz Tells It, 7 March 2019

Who Is Michael Ovitz? 
by Michael Ovitz.
W.H. Allen, 372 pp., £20, September 2018, 978 0 7535 5336 7
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... of ‘Whatever happened to … ?’ So who was he? Michael Ovitz was born in Chicago in 1946 to David, the son of Jewish Romanian immigrants. David was a liquor salesman for Seagram’s but he worked weekends too, selling patio furniture to support his family after they moved to Encino in the San Fernando Valley. ‘The ...

Narco Polo

Iain Sinclair, 23 January 1997

Mr Nice: An Autobiography 
by Howard Marks.
Secker, 466 pp., £16.99, September 1996, 0 436 20305 7
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Pulp Election: The Booker Prize Fix 
by Carmen St Keeldare.
Bluedove, 225 pp., £12.99, September 1996, 0 9528298 0 0
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... other trappings of an upwardly-mobile prick.’ Marks was into St Katherine’s Dock years before David Mellor. Into the revamped wetlands before The Long Good Friday. But it was the same old cocktail: drugs, guns, Arabs, falcons. Flemingesque vulgarity: ‘Crême brûlée with Château d’Yquem made for a good dessert.’ The karma of cash. ‘It’s always ...

Ach so, Herr Major

Nicholas Horsfall: Translating Horace, 23 June 2005

Horace: Odes and Epodes 
edited by Niall Rudd.
Harvard, 350 pp., £14.50, June 2004, 0 674 99609 7
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... Publishers seem to understand this, as witness a new Oxford edition of Horace’s Odes (1997) by David West, and a Penguin Aeneid from the same hand (1990), while A.J. Woodman’s edition of Tacitus’ Annals is eagerly awaited. But a Loeb edition is rather more: some volumes have full introductions and ample annotation, even a new critical text of the Latin ...

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