David Hencke

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(investigative journalist)
David Hencke.jpg
BornDavid Robert Hencke
Alma materUniversity of Warwick
InterestsCovid 19
British investigative journalist and writer

David Hencke is a British investigative journalist and writer, named 'Political Journalist of the Year' at the 2012 British Press Awards.[1] In April 2020 he exposed the fact that "the UK Government’s COVID-19 contract with the data surveillance firm owned by Donald Trump-backer Peter Thiel was approved under an obscure statutory instrument."[2]


David Hencke began as a student journalist in 1965 at Warwick University as editor of its first university newspaper, Giblet, while studying history and politics. In 1968 he worked for the Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph, then in 1971 joined the Western Mail in Cardiff and in 1973 the Times Higher Education Supplement.[3]

Hencke joined The Guardian in 1976, becoming the newspaper's Westminster Correspondent in 1986. He has won numerous awards for his political coverage.[4]

In 1994 he was named What the Papers Say Journalist of the Year for his investigation which uncovered the "Cash-for-questions affair". His exposé led to the bankruptcy of Ian Greer Associates, one of the country’s biggest lobbying companies, and the resignations of two junior ministers, Neil Hamilton and Tim Smith.[5][6]

In 1998 he won Scoop of the Year for a story that caused the first resignation of Peter Mandelson, over a secret undeclared £373,000 home loan given to him by fellow Treasury minister, Geoffrey Robinson.

In 2009 Hencke took voluntary redundancy from The Guardian after 33 years. He later worked as the Westminster correspondent for Tribune and an investigative journalist for the (now closed) Exaro website.

In 2012, Hencke was named 'Political Journalist of the Year' at the British Press Awards.[7][8]

In 2014, Hencke was longlisted for the Orwell Prize for political journalism.[9]

Elm Guest House child abuse investigation

It was David Hencke who passed Tom Watson claims, later discredited, that child abuse had taken place at Elm Guest House in Barnes in the late 1970s and early 1980s.[10][11] Tom Watson then raised the allegations in parliament and the police subsequently launched a scoping exercise under the name "Operation Fairbank". Five Metropolitan Police officers considered allegations relating to Elm Guest House, and other allegations gathered by Watson. Later a full-scale criminal investigation specifically addressing allegations relating to Elm Guest House child abuse scandal was launched under the name "Operation Fernbridge." Operation Fernbridge was subsequently closed with no prosecutions being brought in connection with child abuse at Elm Guest House.

One of the figures accused by Hencke of child sexual abuse, former MP John Hemming, succeeded in a libel action against him in January 2019, resulting in Hencke and Graham Wilmer of the Lantern Project paying over £10,000 in compensation for the false allegations.[12]


  • David Hencke (1976) Colleges in Crisis
  • David Hencke and Francis Beckett (2004) The Blairs and their court
  • David Hencke (2004) Marching to the Fault Line which examined the 1984 miners’ strike in the UK
  • David Hencke and Francis Beckett (2005) The Survivor: Tony Blair in peace and war


Documents by David Hencke

TitleDocument typePublication dateSubject(s)Description
Document:Racist and Cruel - The Nasty World of the Equality and Human Rights CommissionArticle30 May 2016Nicky Morgan
Equality and Human Rights Commission
David Isaac
Rebecca Hilsenrath
I think the EHRC is becoming part of the new nasty Britain. It will issue fine words but do nothing practical about the plight of people because it won't have the staff to do it. It is all part of turning the country into a place where the wealthy feel comfortable and the rest have to scavenge to survive. The only added twist is that the well paid people at the top of this pyramid at the ECHR are being paid out of ordinary people's taxes.
Document:Sajid Javid Signs Off £1 Billion Private Health WindfallArticle14 January 2022NHS
Boris Johnson
National Audit Office
Sajid Javid
Meg Hillier
Amanda Pritchard
Pan Africanist Congress
Sajid Javid, the Health and Social Care Secretary, has agreed an ‘insurance policy’ with private providers, in breach of Treasury spending guidelines, reports David Hencke
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