Gavin MacFadyen: A Personal Remembrance

    From the moment I joined the board of the Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIJ) of which Gavin was the founding director, Gavin and I talked of one day ‘doing the journalism’ beyond the training for which the CIJ was renowned.
     
    For six years I chaired the board and Gavin and I plotted how to achieve this. Lowell Bergman in California and Chuck Lewis in New York had set up significant not for profit investigative journalism organisations to address the growing and alarming deficit in the kind of journalism that was obsessed with probing the truth and holding the powerful to account.
     
    In America a proliferation of such organisations was taking place. The arrival of ProPublica gave us the final push. As the CIJ was at that time located at City University, we approached the head of the journalism school to see if there would be interest in a collaboration with a not for profit investigative journalism publication.
     
    The answer was a resounding yes and so the process began of creating the Bureau of Investigative Journalism – long nights and days agreeing the name – elaborate preparations of the structures and the breakthrough start-up gift of £2million from the David and Elaine Potter Foundation.
     
    Gavin and I were as amazed as anybody could be that we had such an auspicious beginning. Thereafter the Bureau made its own way but Gavin remained an ardent and loyal inspiration, serving on the Editorial Advisory Board and spending the necessary time anguishing over everything.
     
    Gavin could not have been a more exciting colleague to have. Passion, politics and curiosity were his greatest drivers. He never stopped engaging with the new, seeking and finding people and processes which no one else had ever heard of. He recognised the significance of Wikileaks and made contact from the moment they arrived on the internet. He became obsessed with providing support for whistleblowers. He was a great enabler always encouraging and ardently supporting everyone who entered his orbit.
     
    Another colleague, Anthony Barnett, founder of OpenDemocracy brilliantly summed Gavin up in a letter to me this week:

    “He was a real comrade in his rare and precious combative contempt for the ruling establishments of Washington and London... his unpredictable spirit always lifted mine.”

     
    Anyone who knew Gavin at all would recognise him in this wonderful depiction of a man who attracted such admiration and deep affection as a colleague and an irreplaceable friend. 
     
    Elaine Potter, founder of the Bureau and Board Director