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The most inspirational journalist and teacher I have had the privilege to meet. A gentleman who gave me time and guidance to work through complex investigative journalism. The CIJ summer conferences without him will not be the same. My sincerest condolences to his family.
I was deeply saddened to hear of Gavin’s passing. I met him at the first CIJ summer schools that he organised. He was a wonderfully warm and enthusiastic man who was quite obviously committed to pushing people to attain better standards of journalism, and to be tenacious.
He will be sorely missed, I’m sure, by friends and family.
Gavin was - and always will be - one of the most extraordinary and remarkable people ever...
Gavin was - and always will be - one of the most extraordinary and remarkable people ever. He touched so many lives and in many parts of the world, and by righting wrongs and injustices through his films and journalism he has also helped countless others who have never had the pleasure of knowing him.
He was incredibly brave, honest, outspoken, funny, warm and full of compassion. And just by being himself - Gavin MacFadyen - he lit up any part of this often troubled universe where he happened to be, home or away, and was a wonderful friend.
Everybody who knew and loved him - and the many others who were helped by him - are so much poorer for losing him so soon.
But immeasurably richer for having known him.
TO THOSE GATHERED IN LONDON TO HONOR GAVIN MACFADYEN
TO THOSE GATHERED IN LONDON TO HONOR GAVIN MACFADYEN
Late last July I got a notice from Gavin, an email apologizing for not making it to our 2016 Symposium at Berkeley that detailed the new demands and positive accomplishments of the CIJ. Then he wrote:
"But then there was some irritating news. I was diagnosed with lung cancer... Am working mostly from home and Susan and I have sensational support from family and friends."
Like so many I reacted immediately to Gavin's off announcement and called for details. “Stage 4”, he said. And so it was that I had to show up. Gavin always showed up when there was a need to show support. If anyone ever doubted that, I saw it over and over with the less than easy to decipher Julian. Gavin bonded. He did not back down.
And so I became a part of the pilgrimage to Moreton Street and the House of Benn.
As the redoubtable Susan, the choreographer of that famed Moreton Salon, would remark to me in early October, "when this remarkable pilgrimage stops...it can’t, I just want it to go on forever!"
When I flew over two months later, I saw, heard and observed why Gavin had become so important to all of us. Undaunted by the diagnosis reveling in the moment he filled the room with his laugh, what a laugh!
Gavin, “The Happy Warrior”, was at that moment in pretty good shape. He hadn’t had any chemo for at least a week and Susan, the indomitable, the positive, the loving Susan, was at the top of her game. On arrival she asked me to sit with him, while she went out to enjoy and support her grandson’s documentary. And so fresh off a Norwegian Air shuttle, I had Gavin to myself for an afternoon and evening.
Gavin seemed unimpressed with his prognosis. He knew the odds. He knew that alternatives were probably not going to work even the much ballyhooed immune therapy. I gave him some alternatives in the U.S., but he seemed especially loyal to his medical team and Britain’s socialized medicine. He expressed only one bit of grumpy exasperation.
“It’s the ones in tears who are impossible,” he would roll his eyes. “I can take the chemo. I can take the end. But I don’t know what I am supposed to do with someone who is overcome by my fate!?”
As we talked he confessed that he had at one time taken his reaction to injustice, to oppression, too far by becoming not just an advocate, but truly a ‘warrior’. He said he had briefly, literally “taken up arms” at one point in Central America. But that act had in the end taught him, he reflected, that his real calling was to stay in, and to use, journalism to foster the values, and the goals that we both shared. It was his honesty and that decision that made him feel that despite his relentless driving desire to foster freedom, he had fought the right fight and that he was leaving behind a legacy that would live on.
That evening with the confession and his stark assessment of what lay ahead out on the table, Gavin, The Raconteur, warmed to schmoozing. We reviewed how our paths nearly touched over the decades until he started up the Summer school and the CIJ.
I reveled in his ability to ingest those heroic hot Indian chilies, and he thanked me for an introduction to the Logan family, and most all Richard, who had become central to his work and his life.
We reflected on our “Marxist” roots and how like him we were supported by those who had accumulated real assets! The contradictions led to even laughter.
And we relived the rise of Julian Assange in our lives first at our Symposium right after Wikileaks debuted its murderous helicopter footage, and then how Julian and everyone from Europe was stranded in Berkeley by that Icelandic volcano.
“You were a Schachtmanite?!” I reminded him, a tiny Trotskyist sect in the U.S., he assured me guffawing that there were tens of thousands in the U.K.
And then Gavin shot back, “And you followed ‘Herbert the Incomprehensible’?” Referring to my academic past with Herbert Marcuse and others intent on finding a “third way”.
As the evening came Susan reappeared marveling in her ‘brilliant’ grandson whose documentary had been screened to great applause. “Where is it?” she asked. The “contraband” I was assigned to bring over from the Old New World.
Susan is not be denied. So I unloaded a bag of full of lush cotton warm up pants and sweat shirts from “Hanes”. “What’s up with this?” I asked. Susan said softly, “Don’t ask.” Gavin beamed.
By the next day our solitary time together ended as the extraordinary army of pilgrims reappeared, this time from Hong Kong!
I sat back and watched, listened and laughed as I learned from Gavin, that hospice in England was so much better than in the U.S. Gavin pointed out: “They came in with metal lifts for the legs of the comfortable sofa, so an exhausted patient can get up and out of the chairs!” After demonstrating he collapsed in giggles, “It’s free!”
When I left, I realized that Gavin was at peace. He had Susan, who sustained him. Susan, who he worried, would need attention, visitors and a revitalized salon of her own. He was sustained by the CIJ, proud of his protégé Matt Kennard, and it by his enthusiasm.
Gavin went downhill a few weeks after. Overcome by the inevitable. But it reminded me the example he has left was all around me. He was always the one who would stand up when others fled for cover. Remember that front page attempt to discredit Julian Assange in the New York Times. Quote after quote raised questions about his ethics and more, there was one lonely but powerful quote that was supportive…you guessed it. It was Gavin! He just never waivered.
Gavin MacFadyen was tough. A rock. Gavin MacFayen toiled, laughed and looked death in the eye. His principles, passion and all of us, his posse, will live on.
To all of you gathered for this memorial I apologize for not being able to hike over from the “Left Coast”, now an outpost in America. I ask you that you accept my condolences, and bide by Gavin’s wish to me to embrace, sustain and support the love of his life, the strong, sweet Susan of Moreton Street!
So sorry to hear of the passing of Gavin. He was a good man and a regular at GIJN conferences for years. He will be missed. He had a life well lived and he left it all on the field.
Gavin was a bright light in the darkness.
Thank-you Gavin for all your support and encouragement for UK whistle blowers and for your brave fight for a better world.
Gavin was the heart and soul behind CIJ and the work and he will be sadly missed. I have only known him a short time but my thoughts are with you at this time.
Sad news, indeed. I remember great debates with him and Lowell Bergman on investigative journalism in Lillehammer during a conference of GIJN.
It has been hard enough to keep the faith, especially in these bleak times. Without Gavin it will be harder, but that’s what we have to do to honour his legacy.
Gavin is a legend. He taught a generation of British young journalists that to combat lies and propaganda needed passion and enthusiasm...
Gavin is a legend. He taught a generation of British young journalists that to combat lies and propaganda needed passion and enthusiasm. But also something more. They needed to learn.
For all the razz-ma-tazz of ego-centred front-of-camera byline journalism, Gavin spelled out that the foundation of great scoops of revelation was the serious researcher, who read every document to the last footnote, chased every lead with a ruthless determination, and learned to beat the opposition at their own games.
Bringing over to London — thanks to his charms and commitment — some of the best and most successful muckrakers of our times to share their skills, Gavin took all our journalism to a different level.
We fought over a few things, not least over his view that good journalists could or should be attached to causes, but despite that Gavin was unfailingly generous in sharing his contacts and his encouragement.
I will really miss him, and really wonder who can fill the void he has left.
Gavin was one of the first people I ever met who wasn’t my parent or my relative and it was through his mother, Marion Hall, that it happened. She was an exceptionally fine pianist and with my mother, a soprano and my father, a violinist, formed a Chicago-based trio which performed extensively in the Midwest in the 1940s...
Gavin was one of the first people I ever met who wasn’t my parent or my relative and it was through his mother, Marion Hall, that it happened. She was an exceptionally fine pianist and with my mother, a soprano and my father, a violinist, formed a Chicago-based trio which performed extensively in the Midwest in the 1940s. I still have copies of their brochure and I think Gavin did as well, all three young musician-parents looking elegant and capable in glossy black and white. I was born in 1943, not quite four years after Gavin, and remember well as a toddler being taken to rehearsals at Marion’s house.
Marion was open and warm but the real attraction of going there was getting to spend time with Gavin, who exhibited remarkable patience and tolerance for the inquisitive little squirt that I was at the time. We would talk and play and I never sensed anything that felt like condescension, despite the then-significant age difference. He was Gavin Galter in those days. Later, Douglas MacFadyen arrived in their lives and from that era I can recall evenings of conversation with him and my parents which went quite over my head. Gavin I see having become a lanky, blond-haired youth, standing, playing the clarinet. Whether this is a true memory or the memory of a photograph I cannot say for sure and can no longer reconstruct the exact chronology of the family’s move to Bloomington, Indiana, after which I saw much less of them.
However, it was decades later, now a professional pianist myself living in Berlin (as my wife Yuko and I still do), that I harbored a wish to reconnect with Marion. Obtaining her address from my parents, I corresponded with her by letter and arranged to drive with my wife to Bloomington for a visit. She was the same warm, engaging, solicitous person I remembered from my childhood. Marion gave me Gavin’s address in London and urged me to get in touch, which not long afterward, I did. The next time my wife and I were in London we arranged to meet.
The boy was indeed father to the man, and what a remarkable man he had become! He was truly a larger-than-life personality, as Susan has written, with a hearty laugh and a huge heart. One could talk to him about literally anything without even beginning to test the limits of his vast knowledge and curiosity. About his courageous work and manifold accomplishments, I found out in bits and pieces over the years, ever more dumbfounded by his reach and depth. About two years ago he asked whether he could, for a week or so, use a second apartment we had just bought in a new building in Berlin. He felt it would be a good place to come and think. I had to tell him that it was not quite finished yet but would be available in a few months’ time.
Unfortunately, the moment passed and so this visit did not take place. But we did meet for one last time in July of this year, when, already afflicted by illness, he was as jovial and welcoming as ever, his extraordinary mental energy and generosity undiminished.
I could not then imagine a world without him and cannot imagine it now: Gavin was indispensable and irreplaceable. I have never forgotten his kindness to me when we were small children. It was genuine, infectious, heartwarming and became part of what made him such a remarkable, lovable adult.
Last October, we had the pleasure to collaborate with Gavin MacFadyen for an event at Frontline Club London about cross-border journalism. He later kindly accepted our invitation to come to RCC and meet with a group of young independent journalists from Romania. We are honoured to have met him, and we hope his legacy will live on through the work of the numerous people he inspired during his life.
At marvellous moments over the course of five decades Gavin jumped into my life waving his arms with infectious enthusiasm. How dreary to think this won't happen again. Death is a stupid waste, especially in Gavin MacFadyen's case.
I remember Gavin when I had the honour of presenting my very first investigative documentary at CIJ. He was sincerely enthusiastic about my work despite my young age and inexperience. I will always remember his watchful eye.
Gavin was a bright light who blazed a trail and took a generation of young reporters under his wing...
Gavin was a bright light who blazed a trail and took a generation of young reporters under his wing. It’s difficult to put into words what a wonderful person he was. I remember his great booming laugh, his ability to bring out the very best in people, his humility, and the good times with the CIJ crowd. No person was too little. I first spoke with Gavin by accident after calling up to ask about the CIJ summer school in 2008, interested in journalism but not sure what to do. I imagined a person who’d be too busy to talk with someone with no experience at all, but found a kind, sincere, welcoming person fizzing with ideas and encouragement, and a passion that was contagious. I was lucky to volunteer at the summer school while at university over the next three years, and was always excited about the brilliant speakers he’d invited, from Seymour Hersh to Geoffrey Robertson QC to P Sainath; the list would go on and on. After my first summer school, Gavin invited me to join a group of interns meeting at his house in Pimlico: he oversaw the project with the all-out energy and zeal he was known for, and it was also just a lot of fun. After this, Gavin had me join another former CIJ intern as a researcher on a PBS Frontline documentary led by Lowell Bergman and Oriana Zill on international regulatory probes into BAE Systems. That was my first professional experience in journalism, and by then I was hooked. Through the documentary, I met the editor of a newsletter called Africa Confidential, which I’ve been writing for over the last three years. And in my final year at university, it was on the steps outside the summer school that I learned about a scholarship to attend the Columbia Journalism School and was encouraged to apply. Gavin set me on the path I’ve followed, and he and the CIJ community have meant a lot to me. As interns, we called Gavin a ‘living legend.’ And now he’s a ‘legend.’
I was deeply sad to hear of Gavin's passing. He was one of the great
people of his time, and his spirit will live on.
I am grateful for all he gave to us his friends and to the world.
I am also thankful for the happy memory of that dinner you gave for us at Morton Street so that we could share that time with you and Gavin.
We will remember Gavin’s energy, happiness and great work. Long life to CIJ and the journalism under Gavin’s eye!
I was so saddened to hear of Gavin's passing.
What a brilliant passionate and unafraid mind his was.
A never to be forgotten quote from him: "Your employer is your enemy" (of course he was so right).
His work investigating injustice seemed to be unceasing. His capacity to inspire lives on in the many people he taught and I'm sure, for those he fought on behalf for - and perhaps, some of those he fought, too.
I remember his laugh, his hand shake, firm and trustable. He had an aura of energy about him that led you to think the world was really about to change, if we tried just a little harder...
I remember his laugh, his hand shake, firm and trustable. He had an aura of energy about him that led you to think the world was really about to change, if we tried just a little harder...
I always felt rejuvenated by one of those dinners we shared when I came to London. “To raising trouble!” he uttered, as he rose his glass. And again his laugh...
He was a networker, a builder, he knew how to spur big projects, great ideas, always ferociously enthusiast. He was an internationalist, gathering around him dedicated and fierce journalists from all over the planet.
It is an honour to have been one of his friends.
I will miss him dearly.
Gavin had an amazing life. He often said there’s no dress rehearsals in life, and he certainly lived by that mantra. Part of the legacy Gavin leaves behind is the sheer number of people he helped throughout his life...
Gavin had an amazing life. He often said there’s no dress rehearsals in life, and he certainly lived by that mantra. Part of the legacy Gavin leaves behind is the sheer number of people he helped throughout his life.
It was Gavin’s encouragement which led me to take a risk and start newsPeeks, and his advice and support has helped us ever since then.
He was the most remarkable person I’ve ever known; I am so thankful that I was able to meet him and know him. He was the best example I could have hoped for as to what a journalist should be — relentless, courageous, and never losing sight of the bigger picture.
Gavin was as a great journalist, but it was also how he treated people which marked him out as a truly extraordinary person. He was perceptive, humble and the most loyal and kind ally you could ever wish to have.
He will be deeply, deeply missed, but we take solace in what he leaves behind; a network of people who share his vision for what journalism should be. It’s down to us to build on his incredible legacy.
I met Gavin when I was a graduate student at UC Berkeley. He spent half an hour encouraging me that investigative reporting will always be a good career path. He convinced me.
We were shocked and saddened to learn that Gavin passed away this weekend. For a number of years he had contributed to Monocle 24's radio programmes, on every occasion bringing his signature conviction, passion for journalism and plenty of bombast to our studio discussions...
We were shocked and saddened to learn that Gavin passed away this weekend. For a number of years he had contributed to Monocle 24's radio programmes, on every occasion bringing his signature conviction, passion for journalism and plenty of bombast to our studio discussions.
Particularly in areas of mutual interest, like freedom of speech, the progress of global media and the fundamentals of good journalism, we always found Gavin to be a most astute, authoritative yet warm-hearted contributor. Our condolences to his friends, family and colleagues. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to work with him.
A laughter's daughter
A laughter's daughter
I feel I am the daughter of Gavin's laughter
I feel we are all daughters of his laughter
within his laughter's womb
we are protected
against all adversities
stupidity and cupidity
AH AH AH
Thank you Gavin for your invincible laughter !
We will laugh and fight the way your
My prayers are with the Gavin family, friends, and truth seeking journalist. The world needs so many more like him. Rest peacefully,
I didn’t know Prof MacFadyen, but I am aware of his legacy. I'm in Connecticut, and have been involved in politics in one way or another since 2014; the revelations Prof MacFadyen, and wikileaks have kept me going. I am eternally grateful for this.
Rest in peace. I will keep fighting
Gavin was a tsunami of generosity of spirit. When I met him in 2009, at City University, where he was then heading up the Centre for Independent Journalism, he was bursting with plans. One was the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which he planned and worked on with the support of Elaine and David Potter. Other ideas flowed unceasingly, along with the laughter, good food and love of life that so characterised him. My heart is with Susan. What a loss.
The burning iceberg
The burning iceberg
Gavin was always so warming to people,
In a way he made global warming a personal issue
and yet it never seemed to be enough for him
so he used a hell of a lot of hot pepper
to spice things up.
Gavin is the only burning iceberg
that could sink the Titanic
and still save the passengers from drowning.
I will keep in me that burning flame
and immediately go out in the cold to buy an arm full of hot peppers !
I have little dragons to educate!
It’s the only way to keep the cold wars
from making us freeze on the spot!
Gavin MacFadyen, a friend, mentor and member of the Advisory Board of Agência Pública, a Brazilain nonprofit investigative news agency, died on the Saturday, 22 in London....
Gavin MacFadyen, a friend, mentor and member of the Advisory Board of Agência Pública, a Brazilain nonprofit investigative news agency (www.apublica.org), died on the Saturday, 22 in London.
Founder of the nonprofit Center for Investigative Journalism (http://tcij.org/), an inspiration and partner for Publica since its foundation, Gavin was a journalist obsessed with the search for the truth in order to unmask the powerful.
In his last years, he dedicated himself to train thousands of reporters and support developers, whistleblowers and journalists under threats. He was one of the voices who most supported WikiLeaks' Julian Assange, especially after he saught asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy, where he still is under confinement after four years.
Gavin's motto was: "To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable".
As a tribute to Gavin, Agencia Publica publishes the link to one of his excellent documentaries, about the biggest diamond company in the word, De Beers. The film is called "The Diamond Empire" and is an absolutely necessary film to watch. ==> https://freedocumentaries.org/documentary/the-diamond-empire-oppenheimer-family-s-cartel-artificial-scarcity#watch-film
To Gavin and his family, our love and our thank you.
I once told Gavin about some research I was doing on widespread failures in government to monitor the delivery of privatised public services. He guffawed: “Christ, you walk into the back of Tesco’s and they can tell you the life story of every chocolate bar in the store!” ...
I once told Gavin about some research I was doing on widespread failures in government to monitor the delivery of privatised public services. He guffawed: “Christ, you walk into the back of Tesco’s and they can tell you the life story of every chocolate bar in the store!”
Wait, what? Ah, ok.
Gavin was razor sharp but he dressed it down. I remember watching his mouth flicker as he listened to people speak, ever-ready to erupt in booms of laughter and show off the fillings in his back teeth.
I remember Gavin as relentlessly optimistic and compassionate, too. Someone once asked me how such a nice guy could make it to the top.
Do important work; don’t be self-important. And if it doesn’t work out, try again. That’s what I take from Gavin.
I hope someone makes Gavin’s biopic. He once told me a little about his mother, growing up in 1950s Chicago and attending university aged 12. Postwar Chicago was a hub for arts and radical politics but I knew nothing of it.
Ironically, I have never seen any of Gavin’s work (although I suspect I’m not the only one who knows him and not his films). It would be great to dust off the tapes and use them in a film about his life story.
I met Gavin, like many people, via the CIJ. There, he inspired a generation of young people, not only journalists, to stand up to power and have a good time doing it.
Meeting people like Gavin MacFadyen, Andrew Jennings, Duncan Campbell, Seymour Hersh, and countless others, was intoxicating.
Rest in Peace Gavin.
More than 45 years ago there was a band of Brothers and Sisters who were prepared to pursue the enemy, the Nazis, The Fascists and The Haters. It did not stop with writing about them or filming them, it was also that we could depend on each other in tight corners...
More than 45 years ago there was a band of Brothers and Sisters who were prepared to pursue the enemy, the Nazis, The Fascists and The Haters. It did not stop with writing about them or filming them, it was also that we could depend on each other in tight corners. If Gavin was around and I was out trying to turn a Nazi but was unsure if it was entrapment, he was the first person I would want to watch my back which he did a few times.
One of my sons was about ten when I took him to see Gavin in a top floor flat, we climbed four floors, walked into his living room and found a motor bike, my son was as shocked as me and said how did he get it up here, I suggested it was because Gavin was Captain America and was tough and fearless.
Your strength and friendship will be greatly missed and a generation of Journalist you trained to not be afraid to stick their necks out, will forever be proud of your training them and the warmth of your support.
In Comradeship and Love
You were one of the few kind people who understood the hell I was – and still am – going through when I was hacked, surveilled and defamed by those misusing power to cover up their misdemeanours. What is happening to me is also happening to the decent MPs and lawyers fighting UK corruption and misuse of power.
You are irreplaceable and I will never forget your kindness.
I was a student at the University of Westminster in the MA Journalism course from 2003 to 2004. During that period I had the privilege of being taught by Gavin on the module of investigative journalism and vastly enjoyed his teachings...
I was a student at the University of Westminster in the MA Journalism course from 2003 to 2004. During that period I had the privilege of being taught by Gavin on the module of investigative journalism and vastly enjoyed his teachings, His film, 'The Diamond Empire' opened my eyes to the world of brutality in diamond production. I have never seen a diamond with quite the same eyes after watching Gavin's film. It was real pleasure interacting with him to learn about his experiences exposing injustice around the world. His role in supporting WikiLeaks was most commendable. What he said about the private reality of the public face stands truer now than ever before.
I will miss him and hope his legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of whoever he taught. Go well, Gavin. Sending deepest condolences to his family and colleagues.
I was so sad to hear of the passing of Gavin. I did not know him personally but I can honestly say he was and is one of my greatest inspirations. He is a rock star of journalism who personified bravery and humility...
I was so sad to hear of the passing of Gavin. I did not know him personally but I can honestly say he was and is one of my greatest inspirations. He is a rock star of journalism who personified bravery and humility. I had the privilege of hearing Gavin speak at a number of CIJ events and always looked forward to attending the events not only because of the high calibre of speakers and training but because of the warmth and openness that was conveyed best by Gavin's broad smile.
Any time I spoke enthusiastically of the CIJ I always mentioned Gavin, the driving force behind it. Gavin believed in quality investigative journalism, there was no ego, no snobbery and this to me was and is a rarity. My deepest sympathies to Gavin's families and friends. I hope the CIJ continues the stellar work and ethos Gavin founded.
Gavin- a man of many talents- activist- defender of the little people- radical journalist par excellence- internationalist- guru and all-round conversationalist. Friend.
Gavin- a man of many talents- activist- defender of the little people- radical journalist par excellence- internationalist- guru and all-round conversationalist. Friend.
Added to the list came radical Hollywood movie -making along with Mike Mann. A feature film was being shot in Nicaragua - using the Sandinista army as extras. Real gun fire broke out as the area suddenly came under attack by US sponsored contra rebels. Gavin abandoned the drama shoot and organised the camera crew to shoot the battle and incorporate it into a live documentary. Old habits die hard.
Having just left CIJ after 7 and a bit years, I know that CIJ is definitely a place I felt at home and a sense of belonging....
Having just left CIJ after 7 and a bit years, I know that CIJ is definitely a place I felt at home and a sense of belonging. This is a lot to do with the lovely team that has been wrapped around CIJ like a family - only Gavin could have engendered this, with his welcoming open-arms-policy to the weird and the wonderful and everyone in between including vegetarians!
Gavin, it's a shame we couldn't have a repeat performance of Juliet's leaving drinks at mine, though to be honest I think that was probably a record performance! While you're off to power another planet, we will miss your stories, recipes, flying crazily through London to meetings in your Mini, your ‘never give up spirit' and a lot more. Thank you for letting me be part of CIJ's special journey over the years, filling us with a sense of purpose and giving us a space to run with ideas. Although there have been highs and lows (I have a few white hairs to show for it!) it has very mainly been a lot of fun.
I met Gavin a few times, but understood immediately why he was special. Gavin cared about people and looked at journalism as a tool to "crush the bastards", as Julian Assange once famously said. His (and your) support to WikiLeaks was a natural choice for him, for you and for all of us who still believe in the strength of journalism. I am close to you and to your loved ones for this tragic loss and I send you a warm hug,
My sincerest condolences to the team, very saddened to hear about Gavin's passing. I met Gavin at the Logan symposium a few times, and found him to be truly inspiring, he gave me the momentum to continue my freelance work.
A great loss to journalism.
Gavin is an inspiration. He, alongside the CIJ, has provided so many wonderful opportunities to journalists in the UK and around the world. I feel honoured to have met him. He will be missed. Sending love to his family and friends.
I was very sorry to learn that Gavin was ill and am now very sad to learn that Gavin has died. I saw Gavin at the Frontline in early March and as usual we both said we should get together and as usual, alas, both of us being very busy did nothing about it...
I was very sorry to learn that Gavin was ill and am now very sad to learn that Gavin has died. I saw Gavin at the Frontline in early March and as usual we both said we should get together and as usual, alas, both of us being very busy did nothing about it.
I first discovered Gavin in 1976 when I rejoined World In Action and was blown away by his energy and enthusiasm which was sometimes a little overwhelming. Phillida became very fond of Gavin but the first time she met him I was giving Gavin a lift in my small Triumph Spitfire. Gavin was in the passenger seat, Phillida was in the small area behind and later told me she was quite frightened by Gavin's explosive energy - the energy which was to enable him to achieve so much through the years.
I was delighted when Gavin asked me to play a small part in the development of CIJ as Chairman. I quit because I felt I had done all I could and was risking holding CIJ back because of my caution. I hope history shows I was right. CIJ certainly flourished after I left.
Gavin's passing is a huge blow to investigative journailsm and will be a great loss to CIJ. But I know that will be nothing compared to the loss to you and his family.
Phillida and I join in sending our condolences and wishing you well through your grieving.
At a Global Investigative Journalism Conference, I had the privilege of meeting Gavin and I gave him a copy of my book on the history of investigative journalism in Canada...
At a Global Investigative Journalism Conference, I had the privilege of meeting Gavin and I gave him a copy of my book on the history of investigative journalism in Canada. He expressed great appreciation, and immediately began leafing through the pages. Almost instantly he found a reference to William Cobbett, the famous English radical journalist and muckraker. He spoke for the next few minutes about Cobbett’s courage and tenacity, and his importance to the investigative journalistic tradition. I mentioned that there was a similar and contemporaneous figure in Canada, William Lyon Mackenzie, who was arguably Canada’s first true investigative journalist. And I had documented a meeting the two had in Britain in 1832. It was a memorable exchange I had with Gavin, focusing on events from a couple centuries earlier. Like Mackenzie and Cobbett, Gavin had no hesitation throwing his lot in with the voiceless, and holding power to account in the face of imprisonment, or worse. The world of investigative journalism will miss his influence.
I am happy to recall how for the last years, almost without fail, every New Year was heralded, thanks to the hospitality of James and Linn Lee, with a party which Gavin attended. The goodwill, warmth and humour of these occasions was fed by Gavin’s presence, his good humoured expressions of dire conduct and wake up calls to those, like me, who require to be shaken from holding too many assumptions about public life at the start of every New Year. I love the photograph which captures his gentle pugnacity
I briefly met Gavin at a CIJ symposium London. Although he was very busy, he took time to listen to me and reassure me at a time I was at my most vulnerable. I would like to say thank you Gavin for giving whistleblowers a platform and teaching those to listen to the story.
I wanted to add my thoughts to the memories of this wonderful inspirational man. When I met him I had retreated from any activism into working with individuals and their problems. He however inspired me with his energy and youthful endeavour.
He was a supremely good man and I have not met many of them in my life.
Goodbye Gavin, warrior and mentor to many.
I first spoke to Gavin MacFadyen on the phone more than ten years ago. I was 22 years old. I was thinking about becoming a journalist, but I wasn't sure what type of journalist I wanted to be...
I first spoke to Gavin MacFadyen on the phone more than ten years ago. I was 22 years old. I was thinking about becoming a journalist, but I wasn't sure what type of journalist I wanted to be. I saw an advert about a summer school run by the Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIJ), it was written by Gavin and is still online today: http://www.frontlineclub.com/in-depth_charger/.
I googled for this Centre and I called the number. Gavin picked up the phone. He was the first investigative reporter I had ever spoken to. He patiently listened to me as I explained that I didn't know if investigative journalism was for me, he really listened. He cared. He had never met me, I was just a lost young voice on the other end of the phone, but he cared all the same. He then talked passionately about investigative reporting. The importance of giving voice to the voiceless. Then he laughed his booming laugh down the line and said "it's a lot of fun too". I couldn't afford the price of the summer school so I thanked him for the information and said I would definitely save up and go next year. Gavin, being someone who believed in seizing the moment, told me it didn't matter that I couldn't afford to go; why didn't I apply to volunteer and help with setting things up that way I could also go to a few sessions, learn some new skills and see if it's for me. Sadly all the volunteering spots were taken that year but the next year I made it as a CIJ volunteer and went to the summer school.
I heard talks from some of the most inspirational people I have ever met in my life. Stories of terrible injustices and of brave people who would risk their wellbeing to let others know about the plight of their fellow human. These people were heroes. Over the course of many summer schools I was given the opportunity to learn skills that no one else in Europe was teaching at that time from data journalism (although it was called Computer Assisted Reporting back then) to story based inquiry and how to read financial accounts, all taught by some of the most successful investigative reporters in the world. I investigated topics with other investigative reporters who I met through the summer school. I listened to inspirational headline speakers. The late Anna Politkovskaya, Chuck Lewis, Lowell Bergman, Andrew Jennings, David Leigh and Seymour Hersh are just some of the keynote speakers who spoke about their journalism at CIJ's invitation. I dreamed of following in their footsteps and doing something meaningful with my life.
All the while Gavin would be there. Happy memories from Johannesburg to Pimlico. He would recommend books for me to read, "The Undesirable Journalist" by Günter Wallraff is one I remember. He would recount stories like the time when he exposed the diamond industry and was given a big box of documents. He taught me, amongst many other things, that all food can be improved by adding a lot of tabasco. He also introduced me to the wonderful tribe that are investigative journalists. The people I met through his kindness and the Centre for Investigative Journalism are people I consider family today.
Gavin was an investigative great himself but he was also down to earth and approachable. One day he came into the office and told me he was up late as someone called him wanting to talk at 3am that morning. I remember feeling fiercely defensive: "what are people doing calling you at that hour? You should turn your phone off and look after yourself Gavin, it's not healthy!" I grumbled. He rolled his eyes smiling at me and waved it off. Gavin was never happier than when he was helping someone.
When I found myself in a low spot, struggling financially because the journalism outfit I was working for had told me the same day that they had run out of budget and couldn't renew my weekly contract, Gavin took me in. When I stupidly went back to the same journalism outfit a matter of months later accepting yet another short term contract he disapproved, he worried about me, but he also patiently understood and wished me well.
I remember our going for lunch at La Porchetta and I'd watch in amusement as he would smother his Americana pizza with raw garlic, extra chilli, chilli oil and tabasco. "How can you eat that?" I asked aghast. "It's delicious - do you want some?" he offered smiling. We talked about our families. He loved his son. I remember him telling me bashfully how he was getting married and looking happier than I had ever seen him when he spoke about his fiancé and now wife, Susan.
Even when he disagreed with me he wasn't angry, only ever disappointed. I went to his home once to pick something up for the CIJ. When I got there I found myself in the same room as Oscar winner Charles Ferguson. He was interviewing Gavin about Julian Assange for a HBO mini-series. Gavin smiled when I entered and as he introduced me he jovially said "this is Elena, we disagree about Wikileaks." I so desperately wish we hadn't.
These last few months I wasn't surprised to find him characteristically upbeat with zero self-pity, telling me on email "I am being well cared for at the moment by literally dozens of friends. Unexpectedly three different groups are in the house preparing films and I hope a book on what journalism might aspire to be given the political/economic turmoil." He never stopped fighting to improve journalism.
I will never forget the mischievous twinkle he had in his eye just before he was about to do or say something controversial or the "chewing on a wasp" facial expression he would get when he wasn't in agreement with something. I will miss the belly laughs that would shake his whole body if not the dinner table too.
Gavin had a big, warm, giving heart and a fearless personality. I will miss his beautiful soul and am so grateful to have known it.
I didn’t know him but just wanted to express my sadness at hearing the news. To lose any fighter for the truth is a blow to all of us. And to have known about him through yourself and Melanie makes it all the more wounding. My commiserations to you and your family. The work that Gavin did will live on!
I wanted to express my sincerest condolences, and unending thanks, awe, and gratitude for his commitment to uncovering and exposing truth, against all odds and hardship.
Today, there are too few people like Gavin, so willing to speak truth to power and assist others in doing so; his life's work has inspired many and it appears we are on the cusp of change...
May Gavin be the patron saint of whistleblowing
I was and am totally dismayed to learn of Gavin's passing. Such a wonderful human being and fantastic journalist - and such a good friend.... I did think he was looking a bit frail when I saw him earlier this year in Berlin, but put that down to advancing years. I had no suspicion he was ill. I feel very bad I did not get to see him after that. I think you do have a sense of how much I respected him and how fond I was of him.
I was and am totally dismayed to learn of Gavin's passing. Such a wonderful human being and fantastic journalist - and such a good friend. I did think he was looking a bit frail when I saw him earlier this year in Berlin, but put that down to advancing years. I had no suspicion he was ill. I feel very bad I did not get to see him after that. I think you do have a sense of how much I respected him and how fond I was of him.
I will never forget the wonderful morning I spent at your apartment, or the many great hours I spent with Gavin - while always a staunch radical and progressive, he had a gift for bringing together people from very different backgrounds and even differing perspectives. He was a fabulous raconteur and could always improve the atmosphere in a tense room. And each meeting or conference he organised that I attended, these actually took the issues they were about decidedly much further. I learned something from him on how to handle these situations.
I'm absolutely heartbroken to hear about Gavin's death. Today we lost a true hero and the world is a darker place without him...
I'm absolutely heartbroken to hear about Gavin's death. Today we lost a true hero and the world is a darker place without him.
Gavin was a fighter. He spent his life battling corruption and injustice in all forms, he changed so much and fought so hard for a better world for us all. He was the most inspiring person I have ever met and had an incredible generosity of spirit.
When Gavin wasn't busy fighting he was laughing. I'll miss how his booming laughter filled a room and his enthralling war stories. He was always bursting with passion for new projects and battles and was resolute in his belief that we could fight the system and win.
Gavin didn't just change the world with his journalism and activism, he inspired, trained and mentored a new generation of investigative journalists to continue his work.
He was my mentor, a friend and a damn fine journalist. I'm grateful to have known him and honoured to call him a friend.
My thoughts are with his amazing family and his family of friends.
I wanted to remember Gavin, a man who welcomed me into the fold of investigative journalism. He laughed like a king, told a story like a jester, and always was prepared to take a conversation in an unexpected direction, flipping received wisdom on its head...
I wanted to remember Gavin, a man who welcomed me into the fold of investigative journalism. He laughed like a king, told a story like a jester, and always was prepared to take a conversation in an unexpected direction, flipping received wisdom on its head. As a war reporter, he’d survived bullets, and he hated the pointless, asinine politics of most investigative journalists, but he managed to always create a warm, supportive atmosphere. Talking to him, uncovering anything was possible with enthusiasm, and he was always uncovering the next big thing.
He will be very, very seriously missed by a whole generation of reporters and investigators, who saw that better was possible, and believed him. I started with Gavin and ended up at Private Eye. His desire for more is something I think of often.
All of my thoughts to you and your family for such a sad loss.
A truly wonderful man whose many many journalistic tones unearthed stories and their truths that would not have seen the light of day, only for his unyielding tenacity.
He was professional inspiration and encouragement for many of us. I still remember his words when he invited me to teach on the Summer Schools for investigative reporting in London years ago: "Give the audience as many tips for good journalism as possible. Very often the tips survived the trainers."
Gavin's good journalism and model will survive him.
In March 2006 I sat in the CIJ office at City University and wondered what on earth I had taken on. Gavin had been in touch and I had agreed to help him run the Summer School...
Gavin transformed lives. I met him only very recently and still quickly and naturally he became a reference of life for me. His kindness, intelligence, irony, patience and passion have profoundly marked me and today I feel a terrible emptiness. But I also feel that for him and with him in the heart, so that a life so valuable remains with all its meaning, we will continue the struggle for justice that we shared with him and we will do it with the optimism and passion that Gavin exuded.
Gavin, thank you and hasta siempre. <3
Thank you for all your fantastic work, your contribution will never be forgotten.
I will always be grateful to him and CIJ, for letting me be a part of the workshop on tracing illicit financial flows in London in November 2013. His efforts helped me understand the world of tax evasion and the role of journalists in bringing this opaque world to light.
My prayers with his family and colleagues.
Gavin was an inspiration from the moment I met him at a CIJ Summer School, then held at the University of Westminster, in, I think 2004...
Gavin was an inspiration from the moment I met him at a CIJ Summer School, then held at the University of Westminster, in, I think 2004. I was there just as a member of the audience, but I was introduced to him by a mutual friend and former colleague, from Sunday Times Insight Team, Michael Gillard, and Gavin persuaded me to be a speaker on a panel about the lack of female investigative journalists.
After working as a journalist for more than 20 years, I was at that time newly teaching in the Journalism Department at City University, keen to develop the teaching of investigative journalism, and Gavin was negotiating finding a new home for the CIJ – instead of working out of his home. Gavin was so charismatic and evangelical about spreading the teaching of investigative journalism we worked together along with others to bring the CIJ to City. We won, in the end, and I was proud to have played a part in securing the CIJ a home at City, for several years. In that time I got to know Gavin as a teacher, a journalist with profound conviction, indefatigable energy in fund raising, infectious enthusiasm and passion for projects – I used to say “Gavin, we need to clone you”. To spread everything he was trying to do. His loyalty to Wikileaks and Julian Assange was total, unconditional. 100%. I treasure his friendship. Whenever we met for a drink or chat or meal, (he always with his little bottle of Tabasco sauce to hand) he always inspired me to pursue projects. He is a terrible loss. I hope the CIJ will continue his work and those with the money and inclination will fund his work to continue his fantastic legacy. There should be some sort of memorial to him. I hope something is set up to commemorate and celebrate that wonderful person. I am honoured to think he considered me a friend. My thoughts go with Susan, and I hope these tributes give her some comfort from knowing how much Gavin was loved, respected and admired.
I met Gavin on only a few occasions, initially through my PAL work with Susan Benn some years ago...
I met Gavin on only a few occasions, initially through my PAL work with Susan Benn some years ago. My first dealings with him as a journalist were concerning the mass - mostly unreported - deaths of Indian farmers, committing suicide in unprecedented numbers (at that time over 260,000 souls) over pesticides, policy and a certain grain company. He gave me the info I needed, though at the time I wasn’t sure what to do with it. Previous filmmakers had had their lives threatened and I found funding such an enterprise to prove impossible. Strange things started happening to me online and conversations needed to happen live, rather than online. I kid you not. Some years later, I adapted Coriolanus, a play also concerned with wheat and politics. It of course, also never got funded.
Despite the fact he had far bigger fish to fry, he was genial, patient and made time for me. Perhaps happy only in that I was concerned and very willing to help disseminate a great wrong in the act of being perpetrated. As a man, I found him an incisive wit yes, but also warm, full of life and humour, in that large, engaging way Americans can have. The best of America, I would say. That particular brand of courage: An unshakeable, unrelenting belief in the pursuit of truth such a rare and inestimably precious thing. A Colossus of a man; fine mind and huge of heart, to be sorely missed in a world where not enough of his kind seem to exist anymore. Whether we realise it or not, on a world level, we are all the poorer for his passing, but my heart goes out to those he leaves behind, for that absence will be massive.
My heart breaks at the loss of Gavin. I have many many fond memories from my pre-teen and teen years of him as a tall strong bear of a man with a brilliant mind ablaze with immense information and a wonderful cheeky sense of humour. He will be dearly missed. The only grace is he seemed to be at peace and now there is no more pain. I am grateful my memories of him are as he was before the long battle he endured! Please extend my sincerest condolences to the entire family.
I knew Gavin for about five years, and considered him a friend. I was very grateful for this friendship, and his support when I was CIJ-Bertha Fellow. Gavin made it possible for me to pursue the stories I cared about.
He played an important role for young journalists, including several of my friends, by lighting the touchpaper that made them passionate about investigating. We are all worse off that he is no longer with us, and I shall miss him.
Gavin made an invaluable contribution to the launch of a new Master's course in Investigative Journalism (MIJ) at Gothenburg University, Sweden, which opened in September 2016...
Gavin made an invaluable contribution to the launch of a new Master's course in Investigative Journalism (MIJ) at Gothenburg University, Sweden, which opened in September 2016.
Those of us leading the course will greatly miss his energy and enthusiasm – and his wealth of experience and ideas.
As a member of the MIJ Board, Gavin brought an infectious confidence and passion for urgent, critical investigations that challenge power and authority – the approach we aim to encourage among our international cohort of students.
He was a champion of an activist, interventionist journalism that informs people who want to make real change happen, to address injustice and fight for a better world.
At our inaugural Board meeting in May this year, Gavin declared: "You only have one life!" We will strive to ensure that this spirit of seizing the time and making a difference lives on at MIJ.
Our hearts go out to Susan and to their family.
The sad news this week about Gavin had me thinking of many long post-conference hours spent talking, arguing, drinking with Gavin and a particular regret that we had not done that in a while...
The sad news this week about Gavin had me thinking of many long post-conference hours spent talking, arguing, drinking with Gavin and a particular regret that we had not done that in a while. I would sum up my thoughts in this way: if there were more people with his passion and his principled commitment to not-always-popular causes, the world would be a better place. He was a true muckraker, in the best sense of the word.
Gavin had a hand in the building of our conference, now in its 11th year. And he connected us to the world of muckrakers, with the end result - for better or worse - that we are hosting the global conference next year. He will be missed.
Our African conference takes place next week and we will honour him there as a founder and an icon of the spirit of troublemaking reporting.
Our thoughts are with you.
Once thing is certain to me: Gavin's legacy will continue to live on - in our memories of him, in our celebration of his life and most of all in the passion for investigative journalism that he instilled and inspired in so many of us...
Once thing is certain to me: Gavin's legacy will continue to live on - in our memories of him, in our celebration of his life and most of all in the passion for investigative journalism that he instilled and inspired in so many of us.
I remember first meeting Gavin at Frontline club over a decade ago. I was new in London and he immediately took me under his wing, and invited me to attend the CIJ Summer conference. It changed my life professionally, and personally I gained a mentor and a friend. We shared obsessions over stories, agreed passionately on many things, disagreed on some others. Gavin never judged, but always encouraged. He was serious and astute - a pleasure to listen to - but he also had a great sense of humour. His enthusiasm for digging was infectious. He taught me and so many others to wade through mountains of documents and data, talk to sources, the craft of investigative journalism.
Gavin was extraordinary. He always made you feel welcome and as busy as he was he always made time. I think back at the years I have known him and chuckle fondly when I remember hair-raising rides in his little car (he always just felt a little too tall for it), dinners where he regaled us with his life stories and most of all I think of his belly-laughs and bear hugs.
He has inspired a generation of truth-seekers with his boundless energy. I see him referred to as "a defender of Wikileaks" and other labels. He was much much more than that. His was a life well-lived personally and professionally over the decades he was active. His work will continue to bear fruit in those who were inspired by him and learned from him, the organizations he set up and the example he set.
I miss him.
I was a producer/director on Granada TV’s World in Action for many years, and I first met Gavin when he joined as a researcher on the programme in 1972.His technical knowledge was impressive as he came from a film school, but I soon realised that he was a natural journalist. His crusading zeal to right the wrongs of the world was balanced by a real concern for evidence to back allegations...
I was a producer/director on Granada TV’s World in Action for many years, and I first met Gavin when he joined as a researcher on the programme in 1972.His technical knowledge was impressive as he came from a film school, but I soon realised that he was a natural journalist. His crusading zeal to right the wrongs of the world was balanced by a real concern for evidence to back allegations.
There was nothing ordinary about Gavin. In those early days he had a very powerful motor bike which could be found in pieces occasionally in the living room of his North London flat. He was also a genuine gourmet of Indian food at time it was a minority interest. He cooked it at home - commonplace now, but not then - and the aroma of garam masala was very noticeable in the flat. A further curiosity was the sight of Gideon Bibles arranged as if in Waterstones. He admitted to petty theft from hotel rooms all over the world. He said he was on a mission "to undermine Christianity". That was the start of our friendship which lasted 50 years.
He once told me that he had done the 180 mile journey from Granada Manchester to London in "two hours fifteen minutes". You will not find it difficult to understand that I once rode pillion for a short journey in London, and quietly decided not to do it again. Gavin at this time was heavily into martial arts. He used to go to karate classes breaking bricks with his hands at lunch-time in Soho. His group of judo/karate champions turned out for the Xmas office party to show off their skills-to great acclaim.
I will recount just one story from those early days. In spring 1973 I made a film "The Watergate Caper" for WIA with Gavin as the researcher. The Watergate apartment/office block was the headquarters of the Democratic Party election campaign, and the scene of the most famous political burglary in American history. Our basic idea was to reconstruct the raid in the original location. I managed to persuade the Democratic officials that we wanted only a few shots and they gave permission. Meanwhile, Gavin was charged with finding the people to play the Latino and white burglars. He organised it brilliantly by going to Cuban restaurants, and finding waiters ready to serve. We waited until everyone had gone home, and got the basic sequence in a couple of hours. Inevitably we were rumbled and were politely ejected, but we got what we came for.
As we were leaving Gavin said casually to me that the whole Watergate complex was owned by the Mafia. As we came on to the street, three flashy Cadillacs pulled up with what looked like the cast of the Godfather, plus diamond clad molls. They had heard a "funny British crew" with "a big American" (i.e. Gavin) were doing a crazy film. Far from objecting they found the whole scene totally amusing,and roared approval. If only filming always turned out so well.
Looking back over Gavin's long career. I used to take some of his beliefs sceptically. But as the WikiLeaks expose, the Snowden affair demonstrated, his instincts were right about the development of the Secret State and the erosion of civil liberty. We will all miss him.
Lyndsay and I were very fortunate to get to see Gavin when he was still able to converse and voice his range of political interests. It was a magic two hours which we will never forget...
Lyndsay and I were very fortunate to get to see Gavin when he was still able to converse and voice his range of political interests. It was a magic two hours which we will never forget.
My memories of Gavin go back some fifty years. They started when we both joined film school together in the mid 1960's. Amongst other things, we managed to help Portuguese students to avoid the draft into what was then a fascist army, by getting hold of the keys to the school building, and issuing certificates at night that helped them to defer their draft for several years.
After we left film school, together with several others, we set up a company in America which set out to make political films as the war in Vietnam raged. We lived through the horrors of the late 1960's with the murder of Martin Luther King and the vast escalation of the war.
Following this we both joined World In Action to try to reach a wider audience with our films. We shared an office in the basement of Golden Square in London, where we made films which were a critique of the world we lived in. Our union organiser at the time referred to it as 'socialism in one basement' as we were often the only union shop in the whole of ITV who took industrial action on an issue. We even started an industrial dispute against the Granada management when they tried to sack a member of our shop. The dispute lasted over a year, resulting in the person being retained and everybody being offered staff positions and pensions instead of the insecure yearly contracts we had all been on till that time. Gavin was central to this struggle.
Through the years we worked together on several projects, including a programme made in Moscow about American oil interests for World in Action and more recently, an investigation into Frank Sinatra, which blew the lid on the corrupt world he inhabited. Working with Gavin was always refreshing and challenging, and always to be welcomed.
More recently, Gavin asked me to help some of his students with their films, which I was very happy to do. It was a confirmation of what he stood for.
One thing I'm certain of is that the world is a much better place because of Gavin and his passion for investigative journalism.
I came to CIJ between 2012 and 2013 wanting to change my career to journalism. I walked into its offices back at City University, without knowing what to expect, and volunteered myself to intern there...
I came to CIJ between 2012 and 2013 wanting to change my career to journalism. I walked into its offices back at City University, without knowing what to expect, and volunteered myself to intern there. I had the pleasure and honour to work under Gavin and the CIJ crew directly, among other incredible journalists, for one year and to attend CIJ's Summer School. Gavin gave me the opportunity to work as Andrew Jenning's assistant for the year I was there.
I remember how Gavin was dauntless and indefatigable in spearheading the cause of protecting whistleblowers. I attended and volunteered at many of his panels and talks. His energy and passion was channelled in everything he did and he cared a lot about the people around him. He was warm, funny and positively outrageous. He told some of the funniest and craziest stories I've ever heard in my life about his own career and life as a reporter and had a great sense of humour. He inspired me. I didn't know a damn think about investigative reporting until I met him and joined CIJ.
He was always warm, funny and open, available and willing to help aspiring reporters. When I needed advice about anything: Gavin was always willing to give ma ring and share his experience. Gavin and the CIJ changed my life for the better - I've met some of the most incredible people in the last five years thanks to that decision to just walk into CIJ. I'm proud to be part of the CIJ/GIJN and now OCCRP family.
Investigative reporters are mad people (in a very good way) and badly needed in the world to keep power accountable to the public. Gavin embodied leadership in the public interest. I am so glad and honoured to have known him, to call him a mentor and friend, and to have worked for him.
His work will ripple across the world to that younger generation of reporters he helped both inspire and train and to the whistleblowers he stood up for to protect and champion their causes. He certainly won't be forgotten by all those who have crossed his path and whose lives he became a part of and touched.
The laugh. That big, round, belly-full-of-joy laugh is what I will always think of first when I think of Gavin...
The laugh. That big, round, belly-full-of-joy laugh is what I will always think of first when I think of Gavin.
He was a serious man to be sure. Year in and year out, he would bring the very best from around the world, journalists whose commitment, dedication and drive to tell the stories the powerful didn’t want told. Journalists like Anna Politkovskaya, who spoke at Summer School just a few months before Putin’s thugs had her killed.
Gavin celebrated investigative journalism in all its forms, from the traditional to the cutting edge. For a guy whose computer skills were — it is safe to say — average at best, he was remarkably in tune with the latest technological opportunities and threats to the craft he so loved.
I remember the first time Julian Assange was meant to speak at the conference. I knew of him, in part, because of Gavin. At that time Wikileaks was still a relatively obscure leaks site, and Assange was its equally obscure public face. But as always, Gavin was ahead of the curve. He recognized — well before 99.9 percent of his fellow journalists, including myself — what Wikileaks could mean to the future of journalism.
He talked passionately about how technology, cryptography would become tools of the trade years before Edward Snowden’s revelations about mass government surveillance. Gavin was ahead of the curve.
Of course, nothing went to plan, as is often the case with Assange. At the very last minute, he cancelled on the conference, citing computer problems as I recall. In a panic, Gavin asked me to stand in for Assange and talk about DocumentCloud instead, which I was more than happy to do. It is now one of my favorite claims to fame — the time I stood in for Julian Assange.
I knew he was disappointed Assange hadn’t shown, and knew attendance would most likely be fairly light for my DocumentCloud talk. Although I know Gavin had heard that talk already many times, he came, filled a chair and pretended to be interested while I gave my talk to a mostly empty room. He asked a question or two. I really appreciated that, but that’s Gavin in a nutshell.
Gavin was again ahead of the curve when it came to data journalism. I remember the first time I came over to teach at the summer school. This was back in the early 2000s, before the freedom of information law changed in the UK, years before the Guardian had launched the Datablog, and before the term “data journalism” had even been coined. For the first few years, our impact was less than hoped for. Most classes had more teachers than students, and it even got to the point after a couple years when we wondered whether we shouldn’t just suggest to Gavin that maybe he ought to give up.
Gavin, as anyone who knew him would attest, was not the “giving up” type, however. And to our surprise, he brought us back year after year until in 2006, I believe it was, something incredible happened. I remember walking into David Donald’s first class, expecting to see a handful of students. It was standing-room only, and David’s face said it all: Yep, Gavin was right.
Next I saw Gavin, I breathlessly told him we might have to think about slightly larger classrooms for this year’s data journalism track. He smiled. And laughed. Yep, he knew it all along. Just took time.
I will miss him. Journalism will miss him. He left us far, far too soon. But at least we will always have that laugh.
ExposeFacts.org extends its deepest condolences to the family of Gavin MacFadyen, executive director of London's Centre for Investigative Journalism, who died of cancer on October 22, 2016. Gavin was a prominent international leader in the movement to raise awareness on surveillance and secrecy issues...
ExposeFacts.org extends its deepest condolences to the family of Gavin MacFadyen, executive director of London's Centre for Investigative Journalism, who died of cancer on October 22, 2016. Gavin was a prominent international leader in the movement to raise awareness on surveillance and secrecy issues. He was among the first to recognize the dangers of the growing surveillance state and the urgent need for journalists, whistleblowers and hackers to work together to counter the prevailing narratives that minimize those dangers. To that end, Gavin's renowned annual Summer School in investigative reporting was the first - and until recently, the only - journalism program in the world to offer extensive training on covering secrecy and surveillance.
Gavin founded the first whistleblower protection organization in Britain. He also convened two international symposia on secrecy and surveillance, which brought together for the first time the world's top names among whistleblowers, hackers and investigative reporters. Gavin was a key player in organizing support for both Julian Assange and Edward Snowden. And he collaborated with ExposeFacts on several whistleblower projects. Just before his diagnosis of cancer, Gavin was working closely with ExposeFacts advisory board member Linda Jue to bring the next symposium to the United States.
Gavin's far-reaching vision and his unique ability to unite people from disparate backgrounds around a common mission will be sorely missed.
It was my huge privilege to have Gavin or “Big Man” as I always called him as a friend and comrade for over 45 years. “Big Man” seemed appropriate not simply because of his large size but because of his 100% whole-hearted enthusiasms. Gavin was truly “larger than life”...
It was my huge privilege to have Gavin or “Big Man” as I always called him as a friend and comrade for over 45 years. “Big Man” seemed appropriate not simply because of his large size but because of his 100% whole-hearted enthusiasms. Gavin was truly “larger than life”.
The last time I saw him - a few weeks before his untimely demise - our mutual friend Mike Gillard and I took Gav to the Pizza Express near his home. Despite his illness Gavin was in top form that night, buttonholing a slightly startled waitress and telling her to put “the most garlic you have ever put on a pizza” for him. That was Gavin whose defining characteristic was his unflinching commitment to whatever his restless mind chose to do. From his early days in Chicago as a Teamster organiser through to his vital role in setting up CIJ, Gavin never exerted less than maximum effort. (He once told me that as a Teamster official in the notoriously corrupt Chicago Teamsters Union he always slept with a shotgun by his bedside).
His preferred medium was film and he was responsible for a whole series of investigative films giving voice to the oppressed and to the underdog. Although he always described himself as a revolutionary socialist, Gavin’s socialism was never of the arid, sectarian variety. He was pragmatic enough to seek out allies in the most unlikely places. The point was to DO something rather than sit around bemoaning the state of the world.
He leaves in place a thriving CIJ which since 2003 has grown beyond all recognition to the tiny cubby- hole that City University gave him as an office. Dozens of currently employed journalists and film-makers owe their start to Gavin’s determination to ensure that despite the parlous state of mainstream journalism all over the world, a new generation of questioning and committed seekers after truth would flourish.
As was second nature to a man of Gavin’s beliefs, internationalism was in his bloodstream. The range of his friendships was staggering. His almost superhuman enthusiasm and energy served to light a fire in the breasts of like-minded people from Mexico to Iceland, from Egypt to the Ukraine. The best possible tribute all of us can pay this wonderful man is to ensure that his efforts are rewarded by the further growth of CIJ. There could be no better example of what can be achieved by a determined spirit and big heart.
The world is a poorer place without you Big Man but I finish with the old invocation used by folk-singer Woody Guthrie and the old Wobblies “Don’t Mourn. ORGANISE”.
Salud Old Comrade.
We owe Gavin a huge amount because The Whistler has helped so many who never even met him. He gave us a voice through CIJ and Logan, and always gave jovial encouragement, at CIJ events or cheerfully transporting Edna's Law placards in his car. Looking back now at event videos we recall how inspirational he was in just a few words...
We owe Gavin a huge amount because The Whistler has helped so many who never even met him. He gave us a voice through CIJ and Logan, and always gave jovial encouragement, at CIJ events or cheerfully transporting Edna's Law placards in his car. Looking back now at event videos we recall how inspirational he was in just a few words.
Gavin's support included "pest control"! eg neatly removing a money-chasing lawyer touting for business at a Whistler pub meeting.
While some helped only high-profile cases, or big money ones, or were anti-Chelsea Manning, Gavin was absolutely clear that he supported ALL truthtellers, and co-founded The Whistler to do so. When other organisations said “move on”, Gavin agreed with us that there can be no moving on until wrongdoing or risk is put right. So that’s how we will honour his memory best, by continuing to fight for justice and accountability - because the great man would expect nothing less.
Once I stumbled on the name Gavin. Didn't know how much of a difficult task it was to manage TCIJ. That did Gavin with ease, passion and pleasure. When I fell in love with investigative journalism as an undergraduate, it was Gavin's works that deposited that light in me from the continent of Africa, from Nigeria. Though he passed on, his works lives in me, in you.