Ed is an investigative reporter specialising in undercover journalism, focused on climate, environmental crime and complex corruption. Whilst at the BBC his work featured on programmes such as Panorama, NewsnightFile on 4 and the national News at Six, and he wrote for publications including the New Statesman and the Mail on Sunday. He then headed up the Forest Investigations team at the international NGO Global Witness for several years, which exposed the destruction of the world’s most important rainforests in Brazil, the Congo Basin and Papua New Guinea. They took on the rapacious agribusinesses that chop down these precious forests to raise cattle or grow palm oil – often bribing politicians and throwing indigenous people off their land – and the iconic western banks and investment funds system that finance these destructive firms, enabling their behaviour. He is now Special Correspondent for Climate Accountability at the Associated Press, working on a wide range of investigations and environmental issues all across the world, with a particular focus on corporate misbehaviour. Here you can find a selection of his stories and features from the last few years. In the mix with all the hard news are a few bits and pieces on history and travel… and a documentary about voodoo sorcery in Benin he presented on the BBC World Service.

Our undercover investigation into Papua New Guinean palm oil companies alleged corruption, child labour, tax evasion and deforestation to make a product that found its way into world famous brands including Kelloggs, Nestle, Hersheys, Colgate, Danone, Imperial Leather, Carex, Strepsils, Dettol, Neurofen and Finish. We went undercover as commodity traders to meet the executives, who boasted of bribing ministers. One chuckled as he boasted of paying police to beat up protesting villagers. 65 other were incarcerated in a sweltering metal cargo crate for a full day in tropical heat with no water, and children were poisoned on unsafe plantations.
Rio de Janiero
Oil majors Shell and TotalEnergies spent tens of millions on carbon offsets from a rainforest project in Peru’s mountainous Cordillera Azul National Park. But Indigenous Kichwa people lost what was very likely their ancestral lands in the deal, unable to hunt and harvest as they had for centuries. Left destitute, they say their children are going hungry and they can’t afford to send them to school.
The burning of the Brazilian Amazon in 2019 to make way for cattle farms shocked the world. But we revealed six of the world’s worst agribusinesses linked to widespread deforestation were financed by household name banks and investors such as Barclays, HSBC, Santander, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan Bank of America and Morgan Stanley. In total more than 300 institutions backed the firms to the tune of $44bn.
Rio de Janiero
A long read for the New Statesman magazine, in which I explain what mammoth Brazil’s Car Wash corruption scandal was, how it worked, and illustrate its devastating impact on the Brazilian people. Our statistical analysis suggests the lost taxes would have paid for three million nurses or a years education for 17 million children.
One of the most shocking investigations I have worked on: how ten firms of London estate agents routinely turned away black tenants because of the colour of their skin. This exposé was all over Fleet Street and was subsequently named the best investigation in Europe at the Circom Awards.

What’s the most expensive object ever built? I went on a statistical journey for Radio 4’s More or Less programme from the Great Pyramid of Giza to the International Space Station, via the Great Wall of China and a rather pricey nuclear reactor.

The hand in the photograph belongs to the Porsche-driving boss of a training centre in west London. He is reading answers from a big screen to labourers so they can cheat a test in building safety, thus becoming licensed to work on any site in the country. Construction is the UK’s most deadly industry – during the Afghan war more of our builders were killed than British soldiers. This was one of several firms we busted. The investigation ran as a 13 minute film on Newsnight and as a result of our enquiries 6,000 labourers have been forced to resit fraudulent exams. As the film went to air, the editor of Newsnight tweeted: “If Carlsberg did bad guys they would be this fake safety qualification guy.” Why was he flagrantly putting lives at risk in this way? To paraphrase Fargo: for a little bit of money. 

Our investigation exposed the self-styled ‘Reverend’ who believes you can cure everything from aids to Alzheimer’s by making patients swallow doses of bleach – and the US cult-style ‘church of healing’ from which he takes inspiration. I have encountered some wacky characters during my time as a journalist, but this lot took the biscuit. Mind-boggling stuff.

Care website
Say hello to a “profiteering” care agency boss who took hundreds of pounds from low-paid carers who were desperate to work for jobs that never materialised. One ripped off worker said: “They sold me dreams and made promises they didn’t keep.”
Lutfur Rahman

One of my involvements in the case of the corrupt Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman. We revealed claims that employees of his council were threatened with the sack if they did not each illegally obtain 100 votes for the disgraced politician. I was in the High Court to see him face justice – sheer courtroom drama.

Disability Discrimination Act
Blind people refused by minicab drivers who won’t allow a guide dog on board their vehicle? Surely not! Sadly yes. We documented shocking treatment of the blind people and wheelchair users in twenty-first century London.
Had your mobile phone nicked in London? These are the guys who enable a crime that can shatter peoples’ confidence and feelings of security. We went undercover to expose a black market of shops willing to deal in the stolen devices. The Metropolitan Police subsequently raided the businesses we caught.
Library books
After the killing of Lee Rigby in Woolwich, I found a banned Islamic scholar’s texts on offer to the public… at Woolwich Public Library. Dr Zakir Naik was barred from the UK in 2010 by the Home Secretary. One chapter was entitled: “The inequality of male and female witnesses.”

In it Dr Naik argued a male testimony is worth that of two females in financial matters. The story was reported prominently in the Daily Telegraph.

It’s not only methadone given to drug addicts by the NHS – some are even prescribed heroin. Not many people knew that.
How Newham Council spent a whopping £111m on its new headquarters… including £1,800 on individual, designer light fittings. This in what is one of the poorest boroughs in the UK. The exclusive was followed up on the front page of the Metro and in the Sunday Times. Newham Council insists to this day that its headquarters – which cost a full third as much Arsenal’s world famous Emirates Stadium – actually saves taxpayers money.
Dirty money
We revealed how the world’s top three commodity traders, Glencore, Trafigura and Vitol, are all implicated in Brazil’s Car Wash scandal, one of the biggest corruption cases of all time. Few have heard of these vast, shadowy companies, but their combined turnover is greater than the GDP of Austria. We showed officials at Brazil’s state oil company Petrobras were bribed to fix oil prices at below the market rate… with senior executives at Vitol and even Trafigura’s founder aware of what was going on. Numerous prosecutions and an FBI investigation followed; Vitol paid a $164 million fine.
Scotland Yard
An Amazon oil slick, conflict with Indigenous people and alleged collaboration with FARC-linked terrorists in a drug trafficking warzone. Enough red flags for world famous banks such as JPMorgan, Citibank, CreditSuisse and Bank of America to run a mile from financing the oil firm at the centre of all this mayhem? Apparently not.
Perhaps the most egregious example of banks breaching their own policies on the climate I have seen.
Back in 2011, a Ghanaian friend told me something amazing. At the annual festival of voodoo in Benin, he saw a voodoo sorcerer cut off a woman’s head and reattach it… whereupon she came back to life. Six years on, I returned with him to Benin, seeking out the most powerful sorcerers in the land to bear witness to their magic. This documentary I presented for the BBC World Service is the result.
Scotland Yard
This may just be the single most astounding story I’ve ever worked on. Corrupt Flying Squad officers plotted to kidnap the partner of a cash van driver and hold her to ransom. The plot was foiled by Met anti-corruption police – but neither of the intended victims was told. Details of the case were then revealed in a cache of police intelligence reports the Met thought they’d shredded, but were obtained by my colleague Glen Campbell, an old school investigative reporter and expert on police corruption. I tracked them down nearly twenty years later – the female victim now living in the Gambia – and told them what had happened.
A difficult but important piece of data journalism, showing for the first time how prevalent polyethylene-based cladding – as used on Grenfell Tower – is across the UK. At least 52 tower blocks in London utilise the material.

More than 100 security guards had their licences revoked after our undercover investigation revealed they had been obtained fraudulently. Police are investigating the 251 individuals currently implicated in what one security expert called an “astounding” fraud.

Our undercover investigation into dodgy pharmacists revealed no less than nine independent pharmacies willing to selling powerful drugs including opiates and Valium over the counter for cash. SFollowed up by the Daily Mail and the London Evening Standard.

Update: Three years on, and nine of the pharmacists we exposed have been banned from practise. The General Pharmaceutical Council used our investigation to appeal for greater powers from the government, and as a result expects to be able to carry out its own covert surveillance of rogue pharmacists. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-35720655

A big piece of data journalism I did on the hoary old topic of parking enforcement – the revelation that £23m of parking tickets awarded by London councils may have been unlawful.
Litter wardens
Piece of data journalism showing how councils across the UK used litter fines as a ‘cash cow’. This exclusive was followed up with a front page story in the Daily Mail.
What is the life of an illegal labourer in London really like? Before Romanians got the right to work in the UK, we penetrated a murky and dangerous world to highlight the slave labour wages and appalling conditions endured by desperate workers. A difficult investigation in which potential risks to our undercover operatives were at the forefront of our minds.
I reported from Woolwich the day after Lee Rigby was slain by Islamic extremists. The atmosphere was tense and sombre and rather scary.
Parking report
As parking stories go, this was a jolly good one. A London council illegally set its traffic wardens minimum quotas of parking tickets to achieve, with predictable results. Another of those glorious ‘leaked document’ stories I am so fond of. I remember rushing to get this to air before flying to Ethiopia to research Foretold by Thunder…
The UK Border Agency – then branded “not fit for purpose” – gave its staff more than £3.5m of taxpayer’s money in bonuses in a single year. The Times picked up this story and were good enough to credit our digging.
One of a series of stories I worked on with Kurt Barling following the entirely avoidable fire at Lakanal House tower block in Southwark, which killed six. Fashion designer Catherine Hickman died after being told to stay in her flat by firefighters. Those that ignored the advice lived. She was found with her phone in her hand. An awful tragedy.
Lakanal House
One of the stories I am proudest of, and the scoop that set Kurt and I off on a several-year long exposure of the shocking fire safety in London’s social housing stock. Following a paper trail of old reports and documents, I discovered Southwark Council knew Lakanal House was a fire hazard – but did nothing to make it safe. Among the lives lost there were one father’s entire family. His wife, son and daughter all perished.
Here Mr Barling and I revealed that more than 300 high rises in London had not even been checked for fire safety by the authorities. This precipitated every tower block in London that had not been risk assessed rapidly having one done. It is not out of the realms of possibility that this story saved lives.
Our investigation into the fire safety of London’s tower blocks following the Lakanal disaster found some 102 inhabited buildings considered even more dangerous than the killer high rise.
How Liberian President George Weah (world famous AC Milan striker in the nineties) sat on a secret investigation showing widespread illegal logging in Liberia’s rainforests and lawbreaking at the behest of senior officials, keeping them on despite 18 months of diplomatic pressure to act. Liberia’s rainforests are home to endangered forest elephants, pygmy hippos and chimpanzees. The leaked investigation reveals astonishing malfeasance by Liberian officials, led by the man handpicked by Weah to run the national forests agency. Despite being in possession of all the evidence and urged by diplomats to act, Weah stood by and did nothing.
I went undercover for BBC Panorama posing as a desperate would-be dad to investigate how a top end fertility clinic sells expensive IVF add on treatments … with limited evidence they actually work.

You might think environment-conscious Prince William’s charity would be greener than green with its investment policy. But I revealed the Royal Foundation, which launched the Earthshot Prize, invested with a supposedly ethical fund linked to tropical deforestation through buying dodgy palm oil. The rest of its reserves were invested with the world’s top fossil fuel banker.

A piece I wrote for the Mail on Sunday about the joys and hardships of travel in Ethiopia, not least the hair-raising ascent to the Monastery of Debre Damo (pictured).  The monastery – accessible only by a rope-lift up vertiginous cliffs – is a major location in my debut novel, Foretold by Thunder.

My encounter with the Old Man of the Rain, a West African voodoo priest who could – supposedly – make the clouds open at will. “Then you will see what we call miracles…”

When a £27 million investment scheme that supposedly made huge profits through a clever gambling loophole went bust, I began to investigate. It was promoted by the Premiership footballer Steve Claridge (who denied all wrongdoing). Careful data journalism showed the claimed rates of return could not be possible. Here’s my report on Radio 4.
We exposed the scam colleges willing to sit exams for students for cash, enabling them to become bouncers and bodyguards without a bit of training. A fraudulent license obtained by our researcher was used to obtain an offer of work at a power station and an interview to guard Canary Wharf. This piece made the national News at Six on BBC1, Radio 4, Five Live and the Daily Telegraph.
I went undercover as a raver to highlight the blatant use and abuse of laughing gas at SW4 Festival in Clapham. At one point we filmed four girls I estimated to be no more than 13 consuming the drug, as a security guard looked on and did nothing. Enough to put your head into a spin.

Beware online adverts for properties to rent that look too good to be true. They might just have been uploaded from a Nigerian scam artist! We exposed two such ne’er-do-wells… and revealed a steep rise in cases of the fraud.

Lutfur Rahman
Journalists who did far more than I to expose the Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman include: Andrew Gilligan, John Ware, Ted Jeory. But here is another of my minor additions to a formidable body of investigative reportage. Witnesses in the court case that eventually saw him overthrown were allegedly intimidated – including purported threats to their families in Bangladesh.
Wheelchair user
Some of the UK’s biggest firms promised to up their game after we revealed potentially illegal failures to accommodate disabled people. Itsu, Costa Coffee, Eat and Caffé Nero were among the companies to launch immediate improvement programmes. (Fair play to them for acting so decisively.)
Satellite feed
The scam artist we caught selling pirated Sky TV was confronted in what one colleague described as “doorstep ballet”. Reckon it’s a victimless crime? Think again. The money lost to broadcasters because of this fraud could be invested in new drama, paying the wages of struggling actors and writers.
We obtained a bombshell report showing that TfL knew the Hammersmith Flyover  could collapse at any moment – yet left it open to traffic. You’ve gotta love it when organisations helpfully write ‘restricted’ all over a leaked report. I worked with Rebecca Cafe on this story.
Along with the brilliant journalist Zack Adesina (whose baby this story was) I imported illegal stun guns some twenty times more powerful than those the police use into the UK. Ordered online, they sailed through customs… and even came with a free pepper spray!
Patients at an east London hospital were left with life-changing injuries due to a lack of resources, we revealed in 2011. Some five surgeons resigned in protest about the problems at the hospital. Big cap-doffing to BBC London’s doughty Political Correspondent Karl Mercer for his digging on this one.