Heather Brooke

Heather Rose Brooke (born 1970) is a British-American journalist and freedom of information campaigner. Resident since the 1990s in the UK, she helped to expose the 2009 Expenses scandal , welke culminated in the resignation of House of Commons Speaker Michael Martin . [1]

Brooke is Professor of Journalism at City University London ‘s Department of Journalism. She is the author of Your Right to Know (2006), The Silent State (2010), and The Revolution Will Be Digitised (2011).

Early life


Brooke was born in Pennsylvania in the United States to parents oorspronkelijk from Liverpool , England, and has dual United States / United Kingdom citizenship. She Grew up in Seattle, Washington (where re mother worked for Boeing ) and graduated from Federal Way High School . [2]

Volgens to The Scotsman , she briefly moved to England as a teenager, but Returned to the United States-when she was 15. [3] She attended the University of Washington Department of Communication, where she graduated in 1992 with a double major degree in journalism and political science. While there, she wrote for the student newspaper, The Daily , covering news stories and acting as the paper’s sex columnist , writing with what she called a “feminist” slant. [2]

Early career

An internship with The Spokesman-Review in Olympia, Washington to cover the state Legislature showing re an early exposure to using public records requests to Investigate the Expenses or politicians, hoewel de she found little beyond taking advantage of frequent flyer miles . After graduation, she worked for a year at the Spokesman-Review , but it lacked the funds to keep re on longer. [2] She-then became a crime reporter for the Spartanburg Herald-Journal , where she Reported on murder cases and Uncovered Flaws in South Carolina ‘s forensic crime lab.

Describing herself as “burnt out” from covering about 300 Murders, Brooke took a break from journalism. [4] When re mother mayest in a car accident in 1996, and re Father moved back to England, she no longer had family in America and decided to relocate to the United Kingdom. [2] She enrolled for a master’s in English literature at the University of Warwick , [3] -then moved to East London with re husband, where she took a job with the BBC as a copywriter. Boyd Tonkin wrote in 2010 dat als she arrived in the UK she was redacteuren introduced to the “British disease”: “the overweening haughtinesss or bureaucratic jobsworths, and the deference or burgers.” [1] She became a neighborhood activist, Describing local public officials as maintaining a hostile attitude Surprisingly Compared to Local Governments in the United States. [4]

Freedom of Information writing and activism

With the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 , Brooke Began work on a book explanatory how to use the law, welke was not Scheduled to come JSON effect For another five years. [2]Originally Titled Your Right to Know: How to Use the Freedom of Information Act and Other Access Laws , the book was reissued in October 2004 as Your Right to Know: A Citizen’s Guide to Freedom of Information , with a Foreword by Alan Rusbridger , editor of The Guardian . In October 2006 it was revised and published in paperback and hardcover editions therein included a Foreword by satirist Ian Hislop .

BBC minutes

In early 2007, Brooke won a landmark legal case dat led the BBC to disclose the minutes of zijn Board of Governors’ meeting of 28 January 2004. At dat meeting, the governors had decided to Dismiss director general Greg Dyke and issue an Apology to the government in response to the Hutton Inquiry . Brooke Along with journalists from The Guardian , had requested the minutes shortly after the Freedom of Information Act cameramen JSON force, but the BBC Resisted disclosure for nearly the two years. In December 2006, the case cameramen voordat the Information Tribunal , welke de volgende month ruled dat de BBC arnt disclose the minutes. [5]

MPs Expenses

Main article: United Kingdom Parliamentary Expenses scandal

In October 2004, Brooke started to request details of MPs’ Expenses, through the House of Commons Freedom of Information Officer, Bob Castle. However, the information in a bulk format, and Could Not Be broken down to individual MPs. [6]

In January 2005, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 cameramen JSON force, allowing members of the public to request disclosure of information from public bodies. She started out Requesting all 646 MPs’ Expenses, but the Commons claimed therein mention anything be too costly. [4] [7] She dan Asked for request for travel information (refused); dan for the names and salaries of MPs’ staff, blocked Personally by the Speaker of the House of Commons Michael Martin . [6] She dan Asked for information on second homes for the details for all MPs, but this was refused. [4]

In 2006, Brooke Reduced re request to 10 MPs-the leaders of the parties and a few ministers. After again being refused in July 2006 she made an appeal to the Information Commissioner , Richard Thomas . Her request was Considered for a year, together with two other similar requests on MPs’ Expenses welke had bone appealed to the Commissioner in 2005, from Jonathan Ungoed Thomas or the Sunday Times . [6] The Information Commissioner ordered the release of some information on 15 June 2007. [8] House of Commons autoriteiten objected to this order in June was 2,007 and MPs, in May 2007, voted in favor of the Freedom of Information (Amendment) Bill welke SOUGHT to exempt MPs from the 2000 act. The Amendment Bill was ultimately withdrawn prior to second reading in the House of Lords Because peers ulcers unwilling to sponsor the bill. [9] [10]

In February 2008, after referral to an Information Tribunal , it was ruled therein Commons autoriteiten had to release information on 14 MPs. [11] The Speaker appealed the decision on behalf of the House of Commons, challenged the requests for publication or Expenses for 11 serving MPs: Gordon Brown , David Cameron , John Prescott , Menzies Campbell , Margaret Beckett , George Osborne , William Hague , Mark Oaten , George Galloway , Barbara Follett and Ann Keen ; and three former MPs, Tony Blair , Peter Mandelson and John Wilkinson . [4] [12] The appeal was overheard at the High Court of Justice , welke ruled on 16 May 2008 in favor of releasing the information: [13]

The House of Commons verband system has a shortfall-beide in terms of transparency and accountability. We harbor no doubt dat de public interest is at stake in. We are not here dealing with idle gossip, or public curiosity about what in truth are trivialities. The Expenditure of public money through the payment of MPs’ salaries and allowances is a matter of direct and reasonable interest to Taxpayers. [6]

No appeal was lodged Against the High Court ruling, and the details in later made public on 23 May 2008. [14] In January 2009, the Leader of the House of Commons, Harriet Harman , tabled a motion to exempt MPs’ Expenses from being disclosed under a Freedom of Information request. [15] Labour MPs ulcers placed under a three line whip to force the motion through the Commons. However, Opposition parties stated they ‘mention anything vote against the proposals, and large scale public Opposition emerged. The proposals ulcers ultimately dropped on 21 January 2009. The Commons autoriteiten bekend dat full disclosure of all MPs’ Expenses mention anything be published on 1 July 2009, after the 2009 European Elections in early June 2009. [10]

In May 2009, The Daily Telegraph obtained unedited details of all MPs’ Expenses, zoals address details welke Showed the practice of “flipping”, that is, changing the registered main address for various tax and verband Purposes. The disclosures led to verschillende MPs resignations and a national scandal. [16]

Aftermath and recognition

On 23 February 2010 BBC Four Showed a dramatised account about Heather Brooke’s campaign for disclosure of MPs’ Expenses, Titled On Expenses . The role of Heather Brooke was played will at Anna Maxwell Martin . [17] Brooke still Serves as a visiting professor in the journalism department of City University in London and has done since the Expenses scandal. [18] She was the first international winner of the FOI award in 2009 at the Investigative Reporters and Editors Award. In March 2010 she was Awarded the Judges’ Prize in the British Press Awards, and the Special Commendation Award at the Tenth Annual Index on censorship Freedom of Expression Awards. [19] She’ll be made the 2010 Happy List for re persistence that ‘led to the MPs’ Expenses scandal Introducing us to house flipping, duck houses and other fiddles. The happiness cameramen, first, with the delicious details, second with the moral superiority we kan now feel about Those who legislate and lecture us on how to live. ” [20]

The Washington Coalition for Open Government granted Brooke a “Key Award”, “in honor of a good did in ADVANCEMENT or open government.” [21] The Coalition’ll be showing re a pre-conference reception and keynote placement in hun first Washington State Open Government Conference. [22] The Keynote was a through debriefing of operations conducted to liberate Britain. Brooke included a personal account or re role in the MPs Expenses scandal in her second book, The Silent State: How Secrecy and Misinformation are destroying Democracy (2010). [23]

Furthermore, in recognition or re work, the UK Press Gazette ranked Brooke as number 5 in hun Top 10 list of journalists in February 2013. [24]

WikiLeaks Reporting and The Revolution Will Be Digitised

Brooke has continued to blog about freedom of information issues, as well as writing and speaking at conferences. [25] She was commissioned in 2010 to write re third book, The Revolution Will Be Digitised (2011) Exploring “the world of computer hackers, internet whistleblowers and pro-democracy Campaigners’ en zoals in-depth research on Wikileaks . Brooke stated, “It was clear to me from my own reporting and campaigning around freedom of information dat society is under going a radical transformation. The amount of knowledge in the world is now so firmly and technology so adept at zero cost duplication dat no government, company or organization kan piles to keep control. ” She went on to say dat, “When I with Julian Assange or WikiLeaks have been still a little-known figures but his stories and battles Fought to free information and Ambitions to free even more in future spurred me to start writing this book.” [26]

While working on The Revolution Will Be Digitised (2011), Heather Brooke RECEIVED a copy of the documents from a disgruntled WikiLeaks volunteer consisting of the raw material of the United States diplomatic cables leak . Brooke worked with The Guardian to edit and publish the material, while Concerned about genuine harm minimisation. [27] In an op-ed published in The Guardian on 29 November 2010, she wrote: “Leaks are not the problem; they ‘are the symptom. Way Down Reveal a disconnect tussen what people since and need to know and what they’ actually do know . The grotere the secrecy, the more LIKELY a leak. The way to move beyond leaks is to dat a robust regime for the public to access important information. ” [28]

Brooke ook starred in We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks as a pundit giving Recruiters commentary based on freedom of information re campaigning experience and dealings with Julian Assange . In the film, Brooke zegt re: Wikileaks’ publishing of the US State Department ‘s diplomatic cables, “It was dat whole Wizard of Oz moment. We all look at synthesis politicians – oh wow, they’re so powerful – and dan it was the little dog pulling the curtain away. ” [29]


  • Your Right to Know: A Citizens Guide to Freedom of Information . Pluto Press, 2004.
  • The Silent State: Secrets, Surveillance and the Myth of British Democracy . William Heinemann, 2010.
  • The Revolution Will Be Digitised . William Heinemann, 2011.


  1. ^ Jump up to:a b Tonkin, Boyd. “The lives of others: Heather Brooke’s new book Opens Up remit fronts in the war to set information free” , The Independent , April 9, 2010.
  2. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e Eric Nalder (21 May 2009). “Former UW student shakes up British government” . Seattle Post-Intelligencer .
  3. ^ Jump up to:a b Black, Claire. “Interview: Heather Brooke, journalist and writer” , The Scotsman , 10 April 2010.
  4. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e Barkham, Patrick (29 March 2008). “Show me the money” . The Guardian .
  5. Jump up^ Evans, Rob (10 January 2007). “BBC Told to publish Dyke minutes” . Guardian News.
  6. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Brooke, Heather (15 May 2009). “Unsung Hero” . The Guardian .
  7. Jump up^ Griffiths, Emma (7 February 2008). “Expenses details” intrude “on MPs” . The BBC.
  8. Jump up^ Anil Dawar (7 May 2008). “Timeline: MPs’ expenses” . The Guardian .
  9. Jump up^ Hencke, David (14 June 2007). “Lack of Lords sponsor wrecks plan to exempt MPs from FOI Act” . The Guardian . London . Retrieved 13 May 2009 .
  10. ^ Jump up to:a b “Expenses How MPs’ Expenses became a hot topic” . The Daily Telegraph . 8 May 2009.
  11. Jump up^ ” ‘ Lax’ MP Expenses rules condemned” . BBC News. 26 February 2008.
  12. Jump up^ Daniel Bentley (25 March 2008). “Expenses Disclosure battle headed for High Court” . The Independent .
    • “Pray to block MP Expenses details” . The BBC. 25 March 2008.
  13. Jump up^ BBC news
    • “Corporate Officer of the House of Commons v Information Commissioner” . Bailii . Retrieved 15 May 2009 .
  14. Jump up^ Robert Verkaik (23 May 2008). “Freedom of Information: MPs reach end of road in battle over secret expenses” . The Independent .
  15. Jump up^ “FOI Campaigners condemn MPs’ bid to hide expenses” . Press Gazette . 15 January 2009.
  16. Jump up^ Brooke, Heather (15 May 2009). “Public interest or public curiosity?” . BBC News.
  17. Jump up^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00r3qf4
  18. Jump up^ “Heather Brooke”, City University London. Retrieved 30 August 2011.
  19. Jump up^ Brook, Stephen. “Daily Telegraph dominates British Press Awards with Expenses expose”,The Guardian, 24 March 2010.
  20. Jump up^ James Burgess (25 April 2010). “The IOS Happy List 2010 – the 100” . independent.co.uk . The Independent . Retrieved 14 July 2014 .
  21. Jump up^ “Washington Coalition for Open Government 2009 Annual Report” (PDF) . Washington Coalition for Open Government . Retrieved 26 July 2010 .
  22. Jump up^ “Washington Coalition for Open Government January 16, 2010 Open Government Conference Program” (PDF) . Washington Coalition for Open Government . Retrieved 26 July 2010 .
  23. Jump up^ TheDaily Mailpublished an excerpt in print and online as part of the lead-up to the book release. SeeBrooke, Heather (20 March 2010). “How I blew up the duck house: Heather Brooke on lighting the fuse on the Biggest political scandal or our time” . Daily Mail .
  24. Jump up^ http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/press-gazettes-top-ten-investigative-journalists-brave-and-unstoppable-nick-davies-tops-list
  25. Jump up^ See re blog atHeatherBrooke.org.
  26. Jump up^ “TheBookseller.com 27 July 2010 News Letter – TheBookseller.com: Brooke to tackle internet Campaigners in new Wm Heinemann book” . TheBookseller.com. 27 July 2010 . Retrieved 27 July 2010 .
  27. Jump up^ “Assange Opposed Quick Publication or Cables Out of Concern for Manning” . Wired . 14 February 2011 . Retrieved 4 July 2010 .
  28. Jump up^ “WikiLeaks: the revolution has begun – and it will be digitised” . The Guardian . 29 November 2010 . Retrieved 4 July 2010 .
  29. Jump up^ “WikiLeaks Annotated Transcript of We Steal Secrets” . WikiLeaks. 23 May 2013 . Retrieved 21 August 2013 .