Gavin Hewitt

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Person.png Gavin Hewitt  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(journalist, broadcaster)
Gavin Hewitt.jpg
BornJanuary 1951
Alma materDurham University

Employment.png News Editor

In office
October 2014 - Present
EmployerBBC News

Gavin Hewitt is a British journalist and presenter, currently News Editor of BBC News. He was formerly BBC Europe Editor, a post he held between September 2009 to the autumn of 2014.[1]

Early career

Gavin Hewitt is a graduate of St John's College, University of Durham where he reported for a live student programme on BBC Radio Durham entitled "University Termtime". Prior to his work at the BBC, he lived in Toronto and worked as a correspondent for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

BBC special correspondent

Hewitt joined the BBC's Panorama as a presenter in 1984 and was in East Berlin when the Berlin Wall came down. He conducted the first British television interview with Oliver North after the Iran Contra scandal, and later wrote a book about the hostage crisis in the Lebanon. While working at Panorama, Hewitt made "The Case Of India One" which led to an investigation into police corruption. He also made the film "Escape From Tiananmen", which broke the story of Operation Yellow Bird - the underground network used to smuggle student leaders and others out of China.[2]

Lockerbie bombing

In 1989, Gavin Hewitt wrote about the West German intelligence Operation Autumn Leaves which was conducted in October 1988, two months before the Lockerbie bombing:

The German case raises the broader question of how Western governments should deal with air terrorism. The growing danger to international aviation was highlighted by last week's apparent bomb attack on a French UTA jetliner after it left Chad. The Pan Am case shows that dealing with this problem requires, above all, solid intelligence and police work. The story has its roots in an operation which West German intelligence ran against the PFLP-GC last fall, codenamed Herbslaub, or Operation Autumn Leaves. The operation was well-conceived, but it was undone by a series of mistakes that paved the way for the Lockerbie tragedy. BBC Panorama had access to many of the documents surrounding that operation.

The chain of events began in September 1988, when the West German intelligence service, the Bundesnachrictendienst, or BND, received warnings from Israeli intelligence about the movement of Palestinian extremists and explosives into Germany, including a specific warning about the Syrian-backed PFLP-GC. According to a police note, "Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, had noticed Palestinians flying to Dusseldorf." The Israelis believed that the intended target was an Israeli handball team from the town of Ramat Gan which was visiting Europe at the time. Interest quickened in late September when the Israelis identified one of the Palestinians in Germany as Hafez Dalkamoni. He was well-known to the Israelis.

In 1969, Dalkamoni had sneaked into Israel and tried to blow up a power station in Galilee; one of his bombs exploded prematurely and he lost a leg. Dalkamoni was captured and spent ten years in an Israeli prison. He was freed in 1979 in a prisoner exchange negotiated by PFLP-GC leader Ahmed Jibril. After his release, Dalkamoni rose rapidly within the group, becoming a member of its central committee. With Dalkamoni identified as being in West Germany, the German authorities decided to mount a major surveillance effort — Operation Autumn Leaves.

It began on 13 October 1988 and involved personnel from the German federal police, known as the Bundeskriminalamt, or BKA; the domestic counterintelligence agency, known as the Bundesamt fuer Verfassungsschutz, or BfV, and the BND. The surveillance was total. Listening devices were placed in houses, calls were intercepted and Dalkamoni's meetings were photographed. Gradually, as a profile of his contacts emerged, the Germans had teams of watchers operating in five German cities.[3]

Filming the President

He has been the BBC's Washington Correspondent on several occasions, and has made three films about President Bill Clinton, including "All The President's Women", and "The Shaming Of The President". In 2003 he was one of three reporters to use David Kelly as a source for the BBC story claiming that the British Government had "sexed up" a dossier describing Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. He later gave evidence on the affair to the Hutton Inquiry.

In 2008 Hewitt covered the United States Presidential Election primaries and Democratic Nominee for President Barack Obama's visit to the Middle East and Europe in the summer of 2008. Hewitt also covered Barack Obama's campaign for President during the autumn of that year, broadcasting from Grant Park when Obama was elected the first African American President of the United States on Tuesday 4 November 2008 working with Senior Producer Ian Sherwood and Picture Correspondent Rob Magee He then also covered Obama's Inauguration on 20 January 2009.[4]


A Document by Gavin Hewitt

TitleDocument typePublication dateSubject(s)Description
Document:Did German bungling lead to Pan Am 103?Article24 September 1989Pan Am Flight 103
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine–General Command
Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution
Hafez Dalkamoni
Marwan Khreesat
Abu Elias
The blunders of "Operation Autumn Leaves" didn't end with the case of Marwan Khreesat. One of those arrested in the 26 October 1988 sweep was a Palestinian by the name of "Ramzi Diab" which was not his real name, it turned out. That name had been taken from an Israeli passport stolen in Spain. The German police suspect he may actually have transported the Lockerbie bomb.
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