Phillip Knightley obituary

Phillip Knightley, who has died aged 87, was one of the most accomplished reporters of his generation: his craftsmanship underpinned some of the 20th-century’s most memorable newspaper scoops and campaigns. He made a crucial contribution to the Sunday Times’s thalidomide exposé; revealed how the world’s biggest meat retailers, the Vestey family, had avoided taxation for six decades; and shed new light on problematic figures such as Lawrence of Arabia and the spy Kim Philby, with whom he corresponded for 20 years.

He tempered an omnivorous curiosity with a resilient scepticism – not least about his own trade of journalism, which he came to see was greatly overrated as a force for change. His truth-seeking had full play in his 1975 book The First Casualty, an account of the mendacity and myth-making of war correspondents, beginning in Crimea, but it did not in the end prevent the Sunday Times publishing the hoax Hitler diaries, when his caution went disregarded.

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