Reportage & Interviews

‘Little did he know what stout Scots blood could do,’ she scoffs in her diary. ‘I had no intention of dying.’ The secret diary of Grace Brown, a young Scottish mother interned in a Japanese prisoner of war camp with her infant son. The Daily Mail, 28 November, 2015

For everyone, there is the sense of a life interrupted. When Gill got the call from Dunblane that day, she had been packing for a trip to Northumberland. There were plans for a summer holiday. A big family Christmas with two long tables in the front room. ‘I know that he’s left an amazing legacy,’ says Gill. ‘But sometimes, I want more than that. We all do.’ The life and death of Gordon Jack, the peerless Scots photographer who died covering Andy Murray’s wedding rehearsal The Scottish Daily Mail, 28 November, 2015

‘I knew that to be touched by something like Hercules once in your life makes you very lucky. And also, when I’m in my 70s, I can’t be saying: “I need to go home and feed my grizzly.” The extraordinary tale of Maggie and Andy Robin, and the 70 stone grizzly bear they raised as their own. The Daily Mail, 7 November, 2015

They are treated just like the men in the regular marines – that is, with a curious mix of machismo and mollycoddling. What happened when I went on an Arctic warfare training expedition with some of Britain’s toughest men – the Royal Marine Reserve The Guardian Weekend Magazine, 23 January 2015

‘At Glasgow’s only private non-denominational girls’ school pupils wear smart, below the knee kilts. The motto is ‘realising your daughter’s potential’. And it is here, in these gentle, middle class surroundings, that a terrorist was raised.’ An in-depth profile of Aqsa Mahmood, the 19 year old Scottish school girl who travelled to Syria to marry an ISIS fighter and is now one of Islamic State’s most prominent female propagandists. The Daily Mail, 1 September, 2014

‘I never over-claim, because nothing’s more annoying to Scots than having people come up from the South and say “actually, I’m really Scottish after all”. British Prime Minister David Cameron’s only major newspaper interview on the fate of the Union, less than three weeks before the Scottish independence referendum. The Daily Mail, 30 August, 2014

‘Every night before she went to sleep, five year old Susie Henderson would arrange her dolls round her bed. She wasn’t playing, she was hiding.’  Susie Henderson was repeatedly abused as a child by the Tory MP Sir Nicholas Fairbairn and her father, Robert Henderson QC. It took her 43 years to tell her story. A major police investigation is now underway following the publication of this article. The Daily Mail, 14 August, 2014

“We were told to look for survivors. That we could come back for the dead later.”  On the 25th anniversary of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, a dispatch from Lockerbie, the little Scottish town forever changed by the events of one night. Scotland on Sunday, 22 December, 2013

“Death still scares me, but not so much as the fear of not really living.” Five years on from almost losing my life on the front line in Afghanistan, I wrote about how it has changed me for the Spectator’s Christmas edition The Spectator, 14 December, 2013 

“Two men died in order for Chris and I to know each other, and now we are raising two boys.”  Interview with Sonia Stratis Tedeschi, whose father died in the Lockerbie bombing and who met her husband, who also lost a relative on Flight 103, at a memorial service. She had just given birth to her second son. Scotland on Sunday, 15 December, 2013

“Things got on top of me. I was living on the streets. No one deserves to be doing that.” Ten years on from the outbreak of the war in Iraq, Two veterans and a serving soldier talk about how the conflict changed their lives forever Scotland on Sunday, 17 March, 2013

“Once you met him, you never forgot him” The life and death of Captain Walter Barrie, the Scottish soldier shot dead in Afghanistan on Remembrance Sunday 2012 while playing football. Scotland on Sunday, 18 November 2012

“For her it was simple. She was a mother. Giving up on her son was never an option.”  A piece on Winnie Johnson, who spent 48 years searching for her son Keith, killed by Moors murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, and died without finding him. Scotland on Sunday, 19 August 2012

“It’s not Shangri-la here, but if you have belief, you can do anything.” A piece on the Hebridean island of Gigha, ten years on from its controversial community buy out. Scotland on Sunday, 13 March 2012

“So he picked up Sher and carried him down the mountain. Four days of walking across the frozen glacier alone, carrying Sher on his back. Sometimes he held him up. And when it got really bad, he would drag him.” An interview with entrepreneur Mick Jackson, whose life changing experience on K2, where he spent four days carrying a dying sherpa down the mountain and then nearly lost his own life, inspired one of Scotland’s biggest charities. Scotland on Sunday, 1 November 2011

 “He was unstable, volatile and unpredictable, forever convinced that people were out to get him – a legacy, perhaps, from his early years as the teased and taunted country boy.” A profile of Colonel Gaddafi, whose death signified a shift in the Arab revolution, but whose life continues to cast a long shadow over Libya. Scotland on Sunday, 23 October 2011

“I just can’t get into it today,” said a man wearing a sunhat with the date of the Battle of the Boyne stitched into it in neon orange. “There’s too many police around.”  During the height of marching season, Orange Lodge stewards were employed for the first time to keep order during Scotland’s largest Orange Walk through Glasgow. I walked the whole way with them to see if it worked. Scotland on Sunday, 3 July 2011

Prowling the aisles, sharp-eyed fish merchants in yellow boots assess the day’s offerings of cod, haddock, lemon sole, halibut, monkfish and hake. This is Britain’s biggest fish market. Before 9am more than £200,000 will change hands here.” During the summer of 2010 fishermen in the north eastern port of Peterhead set up a blockade to stop an Icelandic trawler from landing its catch. This dispatch came from the town’s fish market early one summer’s morning. Scotland on Sunday, 20 August 2010

“He dismounts from his horse and, with a smile, pulls up the leg on his blue Levi’s. His prosthetic limb glints in the sunshine.” Horseback UK is a charity in Aberdeenshire that helps rehabilitate severely injured soldiers and Marines by teaching them to ride horses like cowboys. I spent a day with them to find out how their methods help military veterans rebuild their lives Scotland on Sunday, 18 July 2010

“He climbed the stairs, walked into one of the bedrooms, and shot his twin brother dead. And so began one of the worst mass killing sprees in British history.” A news focus on the horrific mass shooting conducted by Derrick Bird in the village of Whitehaven, Cumbria, Scotland on Sunday, 6 June 2010

“Coming round 18 hours later, bruised and swollen, wires and tubes sticking out of me and breathing through a tube, I was numb, unable to take in what had happened to me” In July 2008 I went to Afghanistan to report on the work of the 1,200 Scottish troops stationed there at the time. I almost didn’t come back. 18 months later, I wrote about my experience, the impact it has had on my life, and what happens when the journalist becomes ‘the story’. The Scotsman, 11 January 2010

“The house is dark and silent. I am shown in to a dim back room and there, sitting in the corner, her face already so famous that it is instantly familiar, is Susan Boyle.” Just after Susan Boyle’s first BGT appearance, when the media hype was at its peak, I was sent to her home in Blackburn, West Lothian, to interview her. She remains one of the most difficult – and fascinating – interviewees I’ve ever encountered. The Scotsman, 22 April 2009

“Coming here helps me think more clearly. It helps me mentally. It gets the brain to tick over.” Gardening Leave helps military veterans suffering with Post Trauamatic Stress Disorder rebuild their lives through horticultural therapy in a safe outdoor environment. I went inside their walled garden in Ayrshire to hear their stories. The Scotsman, 2 January, 2009

“Writing on my laptop, the satellite phone perched on top of the sandbagged perimeter wall and my head torch strapped on, I could hear the gunfire, and saw the night sky light up as mortar attacks were launched.” While I was on the frontline in Afghanistan, I kept a blog. Scotsman.com, 28 June – 5 July 2008

“I ask a Peruvian charity worker to translate what the boy is saying.”He is asking you: ‘please senora, please take me home with you. Please take me away from this life.'” I travelled to Peru with a tiny Scottish charity called the Vine Trust to see the work they do with street children, as well as the medical ship they run on the Amazon. The Scotsman, 14 June 2006

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