I spent an incredible couple of months shadowing Gerry Adams, reputed IRA mastermind and leader of Sinn Fein, the Republican political party in Northern Ireland, as he toured Ireland and Britain. Halfway through my assignment it was announced that Prime Minister Tony Blair would meet him in Downing Street – the first time a Sinn Fein leader had been there since MIchael Collins in 1922. GQ allowed me to keep going with this article and follow him right to the front door. I was lucky to get closer to Adams than most journalists. I think it was worthwhile – even if I was nearly arrested for being a suspected terrorist myself. This is how it all happened.
Frank Serpico was played in the famous movie of the same name by Al Pacino. As the final credits roll we learn that the ex-cop who’d so bravely fought corruption in New York, was now living in a secret European location. I always wanted to track him down however. In 1998 I did just that and found him in a remote cabin in upstate New York. I immediately travelled throusands of miles to write about him. I’ll let you make your own minds up about whether or not I should have heeded the old saying that begins: ‘Never meet your heroes…’
This is the story of a Scottish boxer who died in the ring during a championship fight. Oddly, I’d penned a ficitonal short story using the same title a year before I did this non-fiction article. I remain grateful to the boxer’s family for the way they opened up and trusted me during its writing. The dead man’s mother paid me the compliment of saying afterwards: ‘You never put a foot wrong in it…’ I still get upset reading it myself years later.
I love coincidences, and so I owe this story to my father Teddy O’Neill, now retired to Ireland along with my mother, who called me one day to tell me a man called Latif Yahia, who’d been the official ‘double’ for Saddam Hussein’s bloodthirsty son Uday, was living nearby. Within two days, I had checked everything out, made contact with Latif, and was on my way to interview him. As I sat in his living room, and his extraordinary story spilled out, we watched the final preperations being made for Saddam’s execution. The insider information he gave me on the Saddam regime was unbelievible. You couldn’t make this up…
This article is an investigation into the alleged miscarriage of justice suffered by Liverpool man Ray Gilbert who was jailed’ along with an accomplice named John Kamara, in 1981 for the brutal murder of bookmaker’s manager John Suffield Jr. Mr Gilbert, now into his 26th year of imprisonment in southern England, claims he was wrongfully convicted of the crime and that the confession he gave to the police in Liverpool was nonsense. His alleged accomplaice, John Kamara, was freed in March 2000 – yet Gilbert remains behind bars. I was asked to investigate this by UK human rights campaigner Bruce Kent and I spent 2 months on it in 2007. I discovered that Mr Gilbert’s confessions – all five of them – were flawed; that he displayed no ‘inside’ special knowledge of the case; and that key timings in his confession made no sense when compared to eyewitness evidence. The victim’s father, John Suffield Sr, also explained his private doubts, on behalf of his family, about the validity of the guilty verdict against Gilbert. It’s a disturbing and worrying case.