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The Strange Death of Jonathan Moyle


John Simkin
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Here is a report on the death of Jonathan Moyle that appeared in the Guardian on 2nd June 1990:

British officials in Chile are claiming that the dead defence journalist Jonathan Moyle was a sexual deviant who hanged himself while attempting to obtain pleasure. It is understood that members of MI5 have made the same assertion in London.

Last night Mr Moyle's father, Anthony Moyle, rejected the claim: "Nothing could be further from the truth. My son, my wife and myself were very close. This is just foul. What on earth possessed somebody to say this?"

No evidence has been provided to support the claims, which will smear Jonathan Moyle's reputation as investigators in Chile are casting doubt on the police assertion, immediately after his death, that he committed suicide.

Mr Moyle, aged 28 of Devon, was found hanged in the wardrobe of his room in the Carrera Hotel in Santiago on March 31.

He worked for the magazine Defense Helicopter World and was in Chile for the biennial Air and Space Fair put on by the Chilean Air Force.

He was interested in a Bell helicopter that the Chilean company Industrias Cardoen is converting to multi-purpose use, especially for Third World conditions and economies. He was then due to travel to Bolivia to write about military efforts there to combat drugs.

His interest in the helicopter - and suggestions that Iraq was trying to acquire it - plus the investigation into drugs have given rise to suggestions that he was the victim of skulduggery by international arms dealers or drug traffickers.

His family and friends in Britain were incredulous at the suicide explanation for his death. They pointed out that he had no history of depression and was about to get married.

According to colleagues, immediately before his death Mr Moyle was in excellent spirits, full of work projects and happy about his forthcoming marriage. It is understood that letters were found on him in which he wrote fondly of his honeymoon plans, trees he was planting in his garden, and a forthcoming visit to his prospective in-laws in Germany.

Mr Moyle believes his son's death was connected with his interest in the Cardoen helicopter.

"Before he died, he talked to Mr [Carlos] Cardoen himself," he said. "The judge [investigating the death] has detailed drawings of weapons which the Cardoen people were going to fit on to the helicopter and export to Iraq. My son would probably have printed that this would have made it potentially an attack helicopter."

However, the helicopter conversion has been well known for some time, and Mr Cardoen's dealings with the Iraqi regime are also well known. He said recently that Iraq would certainly be a potential customer.

His father refused to go along wih the cover-up and eventually got the authorities to admit that he had been murdered.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/60769.stm

An inquest into the death of a British defence journalist has found that he was unlawfully killed.

The verdict comes nearly eight years after Jonathan Moyle was found hanging in a wardrobe in Chile.

Jonathan Moyle, the 28-year-old editor of the magazine Defence Helicopter World, was found dead in room 1406 of Santiago's Carrera Hotel in March, 1990.

The original inquest into the death of Mr Moyle, whose family are from east Devon, opened in Exeter in November, 1990.

But it was adjourned until now by coroner Richard Van Oppen after a pathologist said his inquiries could not be completed because vital organs had already been removed.

The dead man's father, retired teacher Tony Moyle, 68, has said there was "no question" that his son was killed because he was about to expose an arms deal between Iraq and a Chilean arms dealer.

Mr Moyle, who claimed his son was injected with a fatal dose of poison after first being sedated with drugged coffee, has spent £10,000 in a bid to bring the killers to justice.

The Chilean authorities at first dismissed the death of the former RAF helicopter pilot as suicide.

But in December 1991, following pressure from the Moyle family, a Chilean judicial investigation concluded he had been murdered.

Mr Moyle had been attending a defence conference in Chile when he was found dead in the hotel.

In 1993, after an identity parade in Chile failed to identify a suspect, the murder hunt was halted.

The family's claim of a cover-up has been backed up by a book on Mr Moyle's death written by Wensley Clark. In his book - The Valkyrie Operation - Mr Clark alleges that Mr Moyle was killed by local hitmen.

He further alleges that the hitmen were hired by to protect a Chilean arms dealer's £300m plan to sell helicopter "gunship kits" to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein just before the Gulf War.

The arms dealer, Carlos Cardoen, denies he had anything to do with Mr Moyle's death and has produced his own website proclaiming his innocence.

The investigation into Jonathan Moyle's death was reopened by the Santiago Court of Appeal late last year following representations from a lawyer representing the family.

However, another investigative reporter, David Leigh, believes that Moyle did commit suicide. This is what he had to say on the book, Excavating for truth: A review of Investigative reporting: a study in technique, by David Spark in the British Journalism Review:

http://www.bjr.org.uk/data/2000/no1_leigh

This is an unassuming book, and once or twice, too unassuming for its own good. I was astonished to be told that a tabloid journalist “solved the murder” of magazine writer Jonathan Moyle, who turned up hanged in a Chilean hotel wardrobe. Moyle was assassinated to prevent him finding out about illegal arms deals, writes one Mr Wensley Clarkson in a sensational work put out by downmarket publisher John Blake. He quotes a confession supposedly made to a third party by an executive of a Chilean arms company (now dead). And so The Valkyrie Operation, as this author tells wannabe investigative reporters, “shows a journalist achieving what official agencies failed to achieve: the probable explanation of a murder”

Well, excuse me. It shows no such thing. Nobody murdered Jonathan Moyle at all. As it happens, World in Action spent a lot of time and money researching this particular conspiracy theory during the 90s, at a time when I was there as a producer (before that distinguished investigative series was closed down by ITV in pursuit of something more lucrative to put on their screens).

WIA obtained Chilean police photographs of Moyle’s corpse and traced the Home Office pathologist who had examined the evidence for the British inquest. It rapidly transpired that Moyle had in fact been practising “auto-erotic asphyxiation— a sexual game with a high fatality rate. Murderers do not pad their nooses to make their victims more comfortable while they kill them. But Moyle had done so. Simple as that.

In the pages of David Spark’s book, the highly artificial “investigations” of the Roger Cook style of TV exposure also appear uncritically, although these programmes’ commercial appeal can depend less on the public interest than on the entertainment value of targeting populist hate figures — cowboy builders; Spanish fishermen; or small-time drug dealers. If a show of this type can’t end with a stagy confrontation between the heroic presenter and the villains, then it does not get made. Just as a News of the World investigation that does not end up visibly skewering some wretched cocaine-snorter simply doesn’t get written. Self-respecting investigative journalists ought to be encouraged to carry a moral compass as part of their equipment, along with their hatchet (for the hatchet jobs) and a box of matches (for inflammatory writing).

I don’t make these points in order to denigrate Spark’s work. These are only a couple of minor blemishes in a sensible and well-researched handbook which breaks new ground and pretty well covers the waterfront. He consults — and uses case-studies from — most of that cantankerous group who have practised investigative journalism in Britain in the last 30 years: Tom Bower, scourge of Maxwell; Bruce Page, who with Phil Knightley broke the Philby case; Ray Fitzwalter, whose tenure at World in Action saw the exposure of corrupt architect John Poulson and the exoneration of the imprisoned Birmingham Six; Mark Hollingsworth [books editor of the BJR] who wrote devastating biographies of Mark Thatcher and Tim Bell; Paul Lashmar, with his years spent exhuming the British Government’s secret propaganda operations; Paul Foot, hero of the Carl Bridgwater miscarriage and many other campaigns; and Paul Greengrass, who winkled the story of MI5’s post-war follies out of that addled old Spycatcher Peter Wright. Spark rightly notices Andrew Jennings too for his pursuit of Antonio de Samaranch, head of the tarnished international Olympics movement.

Spark ranges up and down the scale, including studies from regional and local paper investigators as well — he rightly grasps that investigative journalism is a state of mind, not a question of the size of the target. Indeed, for The Guardian’s Nick Davies, the author takes wing and abandons his usual quite pedestrian style to declare: “Davies… has done for the poor of 1990s Leeds what Guy de Maupassant, in his short stories, did for the middle class of 19th-century France.” (Is Nick Davies going to be pleased about this since De Maupassant was a writer of fiction).

The only substantial figure missing from Spark’s galère is perhaps Duncan Campbell, the electronics and intelligence specialist. His absence makes the chapter on intelligence agencies sketchier than it should be. In many ways Campbell’s has been a classically instructive — and bumpy — investigative career. He was involved in first exposing the very existence of GCHQ, an enormous British eavesdropping agency protected by the full panoply of Official Secrets legislation; and more recently, he revealed British plans to put up their own Zircon spy satellite. His work has been of genuine historical value. He is grouchy; driven; unusually technically literate; preoccupied by detail; confrontational, unafraid (he must be one of the most prosecuted, sued and injunction-bound journalists still working in Britain), and too awkward to fit easily into any institution.

There’s a quick and eclectic canter, in this book, around the topics that tend to interest UK investigative reporters — arms deals, killer doctors, police corruption, faulty washing-machines, political cover-ups. There is, too, a sound enough review of those three great enemies of democratic journalism — the British laws of libel, confidence, and official secrets. But none of it goes very deep. Much of the book is pitched at the level of handy hints: “Don’t be content with spokesmen's comments... Speak to as many relevant people as possible”. Perhaps this is better than a highfalutin’ approach. But I can’t help feeling that youngsters on journalism courses need something a touch more inspirational if they are to set out on a pilgrimage which will never make them much money or celebrity, but will subject them to all kinds of brickbats.

At ITV’s This Week (another investigative programme since closed down), I watched Julian Manyon’s documentary Death on the Rock crawled over by an inquiry brought about by pressure from a vengeful Thatcher government. They didn’t break Julian’s career because his work was impeccable. But what if the result had gone wrong? I shan’t easily forget the strain and misery that Peter Preston, when editor of The Guardian, went through as he pursued corrupt ministers like Neil Hamilton. (A baying mob of Tories who hauled Preston up before the privileges committee called him “the whore from hell”). And indeed, as Spark recounts, I was called plenty of names myself for making the film which provoked Jonathan Aitken to sue. I and my colleagues were, Aitken famously declaimed, “a small element which is spreading a cancer in society today... the cancer of bent and twisted journalism.”

It’s not a story we ever published, but I well remember what happened a couple of weeks into the subsequent big libel trial, after two years of prolonged and bitter legal warfare. The judge took away our right to a jury at Aitken’s request, and Aitken perjured his way smoothly through a week of cross-examination. Finally, Granada’s insurers, at a tense meeting in the chambers of our QC, George Carman, said they’d had enough. They wanted to surrender. Carman persuaded them to delay the decision for a day or two. In the small hours of that morning, my nerve went somewhat. I shook my wife awake and said, “Look, you’d better know. We’re going to lose. I’ll never work again. I’ll be the man who cost his employers million by defaming a cabinet minister. You’ll have to earn the family living from now on.”

Then gloriously, at the 11th hour, we were saved. It was entirely thanks to Owen Bowcott, a Guardian reporter who persuaded Swiss accountants (of all people!) to let him rummage through the basement files of a bankrupt Alpine hotel. There he found the crucial documents which saved the day, rescued us all, exposed the truth and ultimately put Aitken in jail. Sometimes, investigative journalism is actually about heroes.

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Here is a report on the death of Jonathan Moyle that appeared in the Guardian on 2nd June 1990:

British officials in Chile are claiming that the dead defence journalist Jonathan Moyle was a sexual deviant who hanged himself while attempting to obtain pleasure. It is understood that members of MI5 have made the same assertion in London.

Last night Mr Moyle's father, Anthony Moyle, rejected the claim: "Nothing could be further from the truth. My son, my wife and myself were very close. This is just foul. What on earth possessed somebody to say this?"

No evidence has been provided to support the claims, which will smear Jonathan Moyle's reputation as investigators in Chile are casting doubt on the police assertion, immediately after his death, that he committed suicide.

Mr Moyle, aged 28 of Devon, was found hanged in the wardrobe of his room in the Carrera Hotel in Santiago on March 31.

He worked for the magazine Defense Helicopter World and was in Chile for the biennial Air and Space Fair put on by the Chilean Air Force.

He was interested in a Bell helicopter that the Chilean company Industrias Cardoen is converting to multi-purpose use, especially for Third World conditions and economies. He was then due to travel to Bolivia to write about military efforts there to combat drugs.

His interest in the helicopter - and suggestions that Iraq was trying to acquire it - plus the investigation into drugs have given rise to suggestions that he was the victim of skulduggery by international arms dealers or drug traffickers.

His family and friends in Britain were incredulous at the suicide explanation for his death. They pointed out that he had no history of depression and was about to get married.

According to colleagues, immediately before his death Mr Moyle was in excellent spirits, full of work projects and happy about his forthcoming marriage. It is understood that letters were found on him in which he wrote fondly of his honeymoon plans, trees he was planting in his garden, and a forthcoming visit to his prospective in-laws in Germany.

Mr Moyle believes his son's death was connected with his interest in the Cardoen helicopter.

"Before he died, he talked to Mr [Carlos] Cardoen himself," he said. "The judge [investigating the death] has detailed drawings of weapons which the Cardoen people were going to fit on to the helicopter and export to Iraq. My son would probably have printed that this would have made it potentially an attack helicopter."

However, the helicopter conversion has been well known for some time, and Mr Cardoen's dealings with the Iraqi regime are also well known. He said recently that Iraq would certainly be a potential customer.

His father refused to go along wih the cover-up and eventually got the authorities to admit that he had been murdered.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/60769.stm

An inquest into the death of a British defence journalist has found that he was unlawfully killed.

The verdict comes nearly eight years after Jonathan Moyle was found hanging in a wardrobe in Chile.

Jonathan Moyle, the 28-year-old editor of the magazine Defence Helicopter World, was found dead in room 1406 of Santiago's Carrera Hotel in March, 1990.

The original inquest into the death of Mr Moyle, whose family are from east Devon, opened in Exeter in November, 1990.

But it was adjourned until now by coroner Richard Van Oppen after a pathologist said his inquiries could not be completed because vital organs had already been removed.

The dead man's father, retired teacher Tony Moyle, 68, has said there was "no question" that his son was killed because he was about to expose an arms deal between Iraq and a Chilean arms dealer.

Mr Moyle, who claimed his son was injected with a fatal dose of poison after first being sedated with drugged coffee, has spent £10,000 in a bid to bring the killers to justice.

The Chilean authorities at first dismissed the death of the former RAF helicopter pilot as suicide.

But in December 1991, following pressure from the Moyle family, a Chilean judicial investigation concluded he had been murdered.

Mr Moyle had been attending a defence conference in Chile when he was found dead in the hotel.

In 1993, after an identity parade in Chile failed to identify a suspect, the murder hunt was halted.

The family's claim of a cover-up has been backed up by a book on Mr Moyle's death written by Wensley Clark. In his book - The Valkyrie Operation - Mr Clark alleges that Mr Moyle was killed by local hitmen.

He further alleges that the hitmen were hired by to protect a Chilean arms dealer's £300m plan to sell helicopter "gunship kits" to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein just before the Gulf War.

The arms dealer, Carlos Cardoen, denies he had anything to do with Mr Moyle's death and has produced his own website proclaiming his innocence.

The investigation into Jonathan Moyle's death was reopened by the Santiago Court of Appeal late last year following representations from a lawyer representing the family.

However, another investigative reporter, David Leigh, believes that Moyle did commit suicide. This is what he had to say on the book, Excavating for truth: A review of Investigative reporting: a study in technique, by David Spark in the British Journalism Review:

http://www.bjr.org.uk/data/2000/no1_leigh

This is an unassuming book, and once or twice, too unassuming for its own good. I was astonished to be told that a tabloid journalist “solved the murder” of magazine writer Jonathan Moyle, who turned up hanged in a Chilean hotel wardrobe. Moyle was assassinated to prevent him finding out about illegal arms deals, writes one Mr Wensley Clarkson in a sensational work put out by downmarket publisher John Blake. He quotes a confession supposedly made to a third party by an executive of a Chilean arms company (now dead). And so The Valkyrie Operation, as this author tells wannabe investigative reporters, “shows a journalist achieving what official agencies failed to achieve: the probable explanation of a murder”

Well, excuse me. It shows no such thing. Nobody murdered Jonathan Moyle at all. As it happens, World in Action spent a lot of time and money researching this particular conspiracy theory during the 90s, at a time when I was there as a producer (before that distinguished investigative series was closed down by ITV in pursuit of something more lucrative to put on their screens).

WIA obtained Chilean police photographs of Moyle’s corpse and traced the Home Office pathologist who had examined the evidence for the British inquest. It rapidly transpired that Moyle had in fact been practising “auto-erotic asphyxiation— a sexual game with a high fatality rate. Murderers do not pad their nooses to make their victims more comfortable while they kill them. But Moyle had done so. Simple as that.

In the pages of David Spark’s book, the highly artificial “investigations” of the Roger Cook style of TV exposure also appear uncritically, although these programmes’ commercial appeal can depend less on the public interest than on the entertainment value of targeting populist hate figures — cowboy builders; Spanish fishermen; or small-time drug dealers. If a show of this type can’t end with a stagy confrontation between the heroic presenter and the villains, then it does not get made. Just as a News of the World investigation that does not end up visibly skewering some wretched cocaine-snorter simply doesn’t get written. Self-respecting investigative journalists ought to be encouraged to carry a moral compass as part of their equipment, along with their hatchet (for the hatchet jobs) and a box of matches (for inflammatory writing).

I don’t make these points in order to denigrate Spark’s work. These are only a couple of minor blemishes in a sensible and well-researched handbook which breaks new ground and pretty well covers the waterfront. He consults — and uses case-studies from — most of that cantankerous group who have practised investigative journalism in Britain in the last 30 years: Tom Bower, scourge of Maxwell; Bruce Page, who with Phil Knightley broke the Philby case; Ray Fitzwalter, whose tenure at World in Action saw the exposure of corrupt architect John Poulson and the exoneration of the imprisoned Birmingham Six; Mark Hollingsworth [books editor of the BJR] who wrote devastating biographies of Mark Thatcher and Tim Bell; Paul Lashmar, with his years spent exhuming the British Government’s secret propaganda operations; Paul Foot, hero of the Carl Bridgwater miscarriage and many other campaigns; and Paul Greengrass, who winkled the story of MI5’s post-war follies out of that addled old Spycatcher Peter Wright. Spark rightly notices Andrew Jennings too for his pursuit of Antonio de Samaranch, head of the tarnished international Olympics movement.

Spark ranges up and down the scale, including studies from regional and local paper investigators as well — he rightly grasps that investigative journalism is a state of mind, not a question of the size of the target. Indeed, for The Guardian’s Nick Davies, the author takes wing and abandons his usual quite pedestrian style to declare: “Davies… has done for the poor of 1990s Leeds what Guy de Maupassant, in his short stories, did for the middle class of 19th-century France.” (Is Nick Davies going to be pleased about this since De Maupassant was a writer of fiction).

The only substantial figure missing from Spark’s galère is perhaps Duncan Campbell, the electronics and intelligence specialist. His absence makes the chapter on intelligence agencies sketchier than it should be. In many ways Campbell’s has been a classically instructive — and bumpy — investigative career. He was involved in first exposing the very existence of GCHQ, an enormous British eavesdropping agency protected by the full panoply of Official Secrets legislation; and more recently, he revealed British plans to put up their own Zircon spy satellite. His work has been of genuine historical value. He is grouchy; driven; unusually technically literate; preoccupied by detail; confrontational, unafraid (he must be one of the most prosecuted, sued and injunction-bound journalists still working in Britain), and too awkward to fit easily into any institution.

There’s a quick and eclectic canter, in this book, around the topics that tend to interest UK investigative reporters — arms deals, killer doctors, police corruption, faulty washing-machines, political cover-ups. There is, too, a sound enough review of those three great enemies of democratic journalism — the British laws of libel, confidence, and official secrets. But none of it goes very deep. Much of the book is pitched at the level of handy hints: “Don’t be content with spokesmen's comments... Speak to as many relevant people as possible”. Perhaps this is better than a highfalutin’ approach. But I can’t help feeling that youngsters on journalism courses need something a touch more inspirational if they are to set out on a pilgrimage which will never make them much money or celebrity, but will subject them to all kinds of brickbats.

At ITV’s This Week (another investigative programme since closed down), I watched Julian Manyon’s documentary Death on the Rock crawled over by an inquiry brought about by pressure from a vengeful Thatcher government. They didn’t break Julian’s career because his work was impeccable. But what if the result had gone wrong? I shan’t easily forget the strain and misery that Peter Preston, when editor of The Guardian, went through as he pursued corrupt ministers like Neil Hamilton. (A baying mob of Tories who hauled Preston up before the privileges committee called him “the whore from hell”). And indeed, as Spark recounts, I was called plenty of names myself for making the film which provoked Jonathan Aitken to sue. I and my colleagues were, Aitken famously declaimed, “a small element which is spreading a cancer in society today... the cancer of bent and twisted journalism.”

It’s not a story we ever published, but I well remember what happened a couple of weeks into the subsequent big libel trial, after two years of prolonged and bitter legal warfare. The judge took away our right to a jury at Aitken’s request, and Aitken perjured his way smoothly through a week of cross-examination. Finally, Granada’s insurers, at a tense meeting in the chambers of our QC, George Carman, said they’d had enough. They wanted to surrender. Carman persuaded them to delay the decision for a day or two. In the small hours of that morning, my nerve went somewhat. I shook my wife awake and said, “Look, you’d better know. We’re going to lose. I’ll never work again. I’ll be the man who cost his employers million by defaming a cabinet minister. You’ll have to earn the family living from now on.”

Then gloriously, at the 11th hour, we were saved. It was entirely thanks to Owen Bowcott, a Guardian reporter who persuaded Swiss accountants (of all people!) to let him rummage through the basement files of a bankrupt Alpine hotel. There he found the crucial documents which saved the day, rescued us all, exposed the truth and ultimately put Aitken in jail. Sometimes, investigative journalism is actually about heroes.

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Here is a report on the death of Jonathan Moyle that appeared in the Guardian on 2nd June 1990:

British officials in Chile are claiming that the dead defence journalist Jonathan Moyle was a sexual deviant who hanged himself while attempting to obtain pleasure. It is understood that members of MI5 have made the same assertion in London.

Last night Mr Moyle's father, Anthony Moyle, rejected the claim: "Nothing could be further from the truth. My son, my wife and myself were very close. This is just foul. What on earth possessed somebody to say this?"

No evidence has been provided to support the claims, which will smear Jonathan Moyle's reputation as investigators in Chile are casting doubt on the police assertion, immediately after his death, that he committed suicide.

Mr Moyle, aged 28 of Devon, was found hanged in the wardrobe of his room in the Carrera Hotel in Santiago on March 31.

He worked for the magazine Defense Helicopter World and was in Chile for the biennial Air and Space Fair put on by the Chilean Air Force.

He was interested in a Bell helicopter that the Chilean company Industrias Cardoen is converting to multi-purpose use, especially for Third World conditions and economies. He was then due to travel to Bolivia to write about military efforts there to combat drugs.

His interest in the helicopter - and suggestions that Iraq was trying to acquire it - plus the investigation into drugs have given rise to suggestions that he was the victim of skulduggery by international arms dealers or drug traffickers.

His family and friends in Britain were incredulous at the suicide explanation for his death. They pointed out that he had no history of depression and was about to get married.

According to colleagues, immediately before his death Mr Moyle was in excellent spirits, full of work projects and happy about his forthcoming marriage. It is understood that letters were found on him in which he wrote fondly of his honeymoon plans, trees he was planting in his garden, and a forthcoming visit to his prospective in-laws in Germany.

Mr Moyle believes his son's death was connected with his interest in the Cardoen helicopter.

"Before he died, he talked to Mr [Carlos] Cardoen himself," he said. "The judge [investigating the death] has detailed drawings of weapons which the Cardoen people were going to fit on to the helicopter and export to Iraq. My son would probably have printed that this would have made it potentially an attack helicopter."

However, the helicopter conversion has been well known for some time, and Mr Cardoen's dealings with the Iraqi regime are also well known. He said recently that Iraq would certainly be a potential customer.

His father refused to go along wih the cover-up and eventually got the authorities to admit that he had been murdered.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/60769.stm

An inquest into the death of a British defence journalist has found that he was unlawfully killed.

The verdict comes nearly eight years after Jonathan Moyle was found hanging in a wardrobe in Chile.

Jonathan Moyle, the 28-year-old editor of the magazine Defence Helicopter World, was found dead in room 1406 of Santiago's Carrera Hotel in March, 1990.

The original inquest into the death of Mr Moyle, whose family are from east Devon, opened in Exeter in November, 1990.

But it was adjourned until now by coroner Richard Van Oppen after a pathologist said his inquiries could not be completed because vital organs had already been removed.

The dead man's father, retired teacher Tony Moyle, 68, has said there was "no question" that his son was killed because he was about to expose an arms deal between Iraq and a Chilean arms dealer.

Mr Moyle, who claimed his son was injected with a fatal dose of poison after first being sedated with drugged coffee, has spent £10,000 in a bid to bring the killers to justice.

The Chilean authorities at first dismissed the death of the former RAF helicopter pilot as suicide.

But in December 1991, following pressure from the Moyle family, a Chilean judicial investigation concluded he had been murdered.

Mr Moyle had been attending a defence conference in Chile when he was found dead in the hotel.

In 1993, after an identity parade in Chile failed to identify a suspect, the murder hunt was halted.

He further alleges that the hitmen were hired by to protect a Chilean arms dealer's £300m plan to sell helicopter "gunship kits" to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein just before the Gulf War.

The arms dealer, Carlos Cardoen, denies he had anything to do with Mr Moyle's death and has produced his own website proclaiming his innocence.

The investigation into Jonathan Moyle's death was reopened by the Santiago Court of Appeal late last year following representations from a lawyer representing the family.

http://www.bjr.org.uk/data/2000/no1_leigh

This is an unassuming book, and once or twice, too unassuming for its own good. I was astonished to be told that a tabloid journalist "solved the murder" of magazine writer Jonathan Moyle, who turned up hanged in a Chilean hotel wardrobe. Moyle was assassinated to prevent him finding out about illegal arms deals, writes one Mr Wensley Clarkson in a sensational work put out by downmarket publisher John Blake. He quotes a confession supposedly made to a third party by an executive of a Chilean arms company (now dead). And so The Valkyrie Operation, as this author tells wannabe investigative reporters, "shows a journalist achieving what official agencies failed to achieve: the probable explanation of a murder"

Well, excuse me. It shows no such thing. Nobody murdered Jonathan Moyle at all. As it happens, World in Action spent a lot of time and money researching this particular conspiracy theory during the 90s, at a time when I was there as a producer (before that distinguished investigative series was closed down by ITV in pursuit of something more lucrative to put on their screens).

WIA obtained Chilean police photographs of Moyle's corpse and traced the Home Office pathologist who had examined the evidence for the British inquest. It rapidly transpired that Moyle had in fact been practising "auto-erotic asphyxiation— a sexual game with a high fatality rate. Murderers do not pad their nooses to make their victims more comfortable while they kill them. But Moyle had done so. Simple as that.

In the pages of David Spark's book, the highly artificial "investigations" of the Roger Cook style of TV exposure also appear uncritically, although these programmes' commercial appeal can depend less on the public interest than on the entertainment value of targeting populist hate figures — cowboy builders; Spanish fishermen; or small-time drug dealers. If a show of this type can't end with a stagy confrontation between the heroic presenter and the villains, then it does not get made. Just as a News of the World investigation that does not end up visibly skewering some wretched cocaine-snorter simply doesn't get written. Self-respecting investigative journalists ought to be encouraged to carry a moral compass as part of their equipment, along with their hatchet (for the hatchet jobs) and a box of matches (for inflammatory writing).

I don't make these points in order to denigrate Spark's work. These are only a couple of minor blemishes in a sensible and well-researched handbook which breaks new ground and pretty well covers the waterfront. He consults — and uses case-studies from — most of that cantankerous group who have practised investigative journalism in Britain in the last 30 years: Tom Bower, scourge of Maxwell; Bruce Page, who with Phil Knightley broke the Philby case; Ray Fitzwalter, whose tenure at World in Action saw the exposure of corrupt architect John Poulson and the exoneration of the imprisoned Birmingham Six; Mark Hollingsworth [books editor of the BJR] who wrote devastating biographies of Mark Thatcher and Tim Bell; Paul Lashmar, with his years spent exhuming the British Government's secret propaganda operations; Paul Foot, hero of the Carl Bridgwater miscarriage and many other campaigns; and Paul Greengrass, who winkled the story of MI5's post-war follies out of that addled old Spycatcher Peter Wright. Spark rightly notices Andrew Jennings too for his pursuit of Antonio de Samaranch, head of the tarnished international Olympics movement.

Spark ranges up and down the scale, including studies from regional and local paper investigators as well — he rightly grasps that investigative journalism is a state of mind, not a question of the size of the target. Indeed, for The Guardian's Nick Davies, the author takes wing and abandons his usual quite pedestrian style to declare: "Davies… has done for the poor of 1990s Leeds what Guy de Maupassant, in his short stories, did for the middle class of 19th-century France." (Is Nick Davies going to be pleased about this since De Maupassant was a writer of fiction).

The only substantial figure missing from Spark's galère is perhaps Duncan Campbell, the electronics and intelligence specialist. His absence makes the chapter on intelligence agencies sketchier than it should be. In many ways Campbell's has been a classically instructive — and bumpy — investigative career. He was involved in first exposing the very existence of GCHQ, an enormous British eavesdropping agency protected by the full panoply of Official Secrets legislation; and more recently, he revealed British plans to put up their own Zircon spy satellite. His work has been of genuine historical value. He is grouchy; driven; unusually technically literate; preoccupied by detail; confrontational, unafraid (he must be one of the most prosecuted, sued and injunction-bound journalists still working in Britain), and too awkward to fit easily into any institution.

There's a quick and eclectic canter, in this book, around the topics that tend to interest UK investigative reporters — arms deals, killer doctors, police corruption, faulty washing-machines, political cover-ups. There is, too, a sound enough review of those three great enemies of democratic journalism — the British laws of libel, confidence, and official secrets. But none of it goes very deep. Much of the book is pitched at the level of handy hints: "Don't be content with spokesmen's comments... Speak to as many relevant people as possible". Perhaps this is better than a highfalutin' approach. But I can't help feeling that youngsters on journalism courses need something a touch more inspirational if they are to set out on a pilgrimage which will never make them much money or celebrity, but will subject them to all kinds of brickbats.

At ITV's This Week (another investigative programme since closed down), I watched Julian Manyon's documentary Death on the Rock crawled over by an inquiry brought about by pressure from a vengeful Thatcher government. They didn't break Julian's career because his work was impeccable. But what if the result had gone wrong? I shan't easily forget the strain and misery that Peter Preston, when editor of The Guardian, went through as he pursued corrupt ministers like Neil Hamilton. (A baying mob of Tories who hauled Preston up before the privileges committee called him "the whore from hell"). And indeed, as Spark recounts, I was called plenty of names myself for making the film which provoked Jonathan Aitken to sue. I and my colleagues were, Aitken famously declaimed, "a small element which is spreading a cancer in society today... the cancer of bent and twisted journalism."

It's not a story we ever published, but I well remember what happened a couple of weeks into the subsequent big libel trial, after two years of prolonged and bitter legal warfare. The judge took away our right to a jury at Aitken's request, and Aitken perjured his way smoothly through a week of cross-examination. Finally, Granada's insurers, at a tense meeting in the chambers of our QC, George Carman, said they'd had enough. They wanted to surrender. Carman persuaded them to delay the decision for a day or two. In the small hours of that morning, my nerve went somewhat. I shook my wife awake and said, "Look, you'd better know. We're going to lose. I'll never work again. I'll be the man who cost his employers million by defaming a cabinet minister. You'll have to earn the family living from now on."

Then gloriously, at the 11th hour, we were saved. It was entirely thanks to Owen Bowcott, a Guardian reporter who persuaded Swiss accountants (of all people!) to let him rummage through the basement files of a bankrupt Alpine hotel. There he found the crucial documents which saved the day, rescued us all, exposed the truth and ultimately put Aitken in jail. Sometimes, investigative journalism is actually about heroes.

"...The family's claim of a cover-up has been backed up by a book on Mr Moyle's death written by Wensley Clark. In his book - The Valkyrie Operation - Mr Clark alleges that Mr Moyle was killed by local hitmen..."

"...However, another investigative reporter, David Leigh, believes that Moyle did commit suicide. This is what he had to say on the book, Excavating for truth: A review of Investigative reporting: a study in technique, by David Spark in the British Journalism Review...:"

Of course the Valkyrie Operation resulted in the 1944 plot to kill Hitler, while David Leigh is the London based journalist who, as an intern with the Washington Post, was assigned by Ben Bradlee to write a story about the David Atlee Phillips affair, a story that never saw print.

Bill Kelly

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"...However, another investigative reporter, David Leigh, believes that Moyle did commit suicide. This is what he had to say on the book, Excavating for truth: A review of Investigative reporting: a study in technique, by David Spark in the British Journalism Review...:"

Of course the Valkyrie Operation resulted in the 1944 plot to kill Hitler, while David Leigh is the London based journalist who, as an intern with the Washington Post, was assigned by Ben Bradlee to write a story about the David Atlee Phillips affair, a story that never saw print.

Bill Kelly

I used to teach David Leigh's son when he lived in Brighton. Later I worked at the same newspaper as him but he has never replied to any of my emails. Nor has he used any information I have sent him. He has broken some good stories but is not really interested in information concerning the intelligence services. I suspect that Leigh is a Seymour Hersh type journalist. In other words, he is willing to take information from the intelligence services in exchange for keeping away from more dangerous stories.

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