Toby Harnden
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Toby Harnden

Toby Harnden (born 14 January 1966[1]) is an Anglo-American author and journalist who was awarded the Orwell Prize for Books in 2012.[2][3] He spent almost 25 years working for British newspapers, mainly as a foreign correspondent. From 2013 until 2018, he was Washington bureau chief of The Sunday Times.[4] He previously spent 17 years at The Daily Telegraph, based in London, Belfast, Washington, Jerusalem and Baghdad, finishing as US Editor from 2006 to 2011,[5] and was also US Executive Editor of Mail Online and US Editor of the Daily Mail for a year in 2012. He is the author of two books: Bandit Country: The IRA & South Armagh (1999) and Dead Men Risen: The Welsh Guards and the Defining Story of Britain's War in Afghanistan (2011). He was reporter and presenter of the BBC Panorama Special programme Broken by Battle about suicide and PTSD among British soldiers, broadcast in 2013.[6]


Born in Portsmouth, Harnden grew up in Marple and Rusholme, Manchester. He attended Harrytown Comprehensive School in Bredbury, Cheshire and St Bede's College, Manchester.[7] He entered Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth in January 1985 and passed out the following August. After studying Modern History at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, he graduated from Oxford University with a First in July 1988. While at the university, Harnden was Junior Common Room President of Corpus Christi in 1987, succeeding David Miliband.[8] Before becoming a journalist, Harnden was an officer in the Royal Navy, retiring in the rank of Lieutenant in 1994[9] after service ashore and at sea in the assault ships HMS Fearless, and HMS Intrepid, the minesweeper HMS Itchen, the destroyers HMS Manchester and HMS Edinburgh and the frigate HMS Cornwall. During his training, he was an exchange officer with the Royal Norwegian Navy, helping to transport reindeer on troop landing craft. His final naval appointment was in the Ministry of Defence as Flag Lieutenant to the Second Sea Lord. In August 2009, he became an American citizen.[10] He has two children.[11][12]


Harnden has written two non-fiction books: Bandit Country: The IRA & South Armagh; and Dead Men Risen: The Welsh Guards and the Defining Story of Britain's War in Afghanistan.

Bandit Country: The IRA & South Armagh, published by Hodder & Stoughton in November 1999, was critically acclaimed and sold more than 100,000 copies. It led to the formation of the Smithwick Tribunal, which investigated whether, as Harnden had alleged in his book, there had been Garda (Irish police) collusion in the 1989 murders of senior RUC officers Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan. In December 2013, the tribunal confirmed the allegations, concluding that there had been Garda collusion in the murders.[13] The Irish government apologized to the families of the dead officers. The author Ed Moloney, one of the foremost experts on the modern IRA, supported Harnden's account: "The other thing I know is that the IRA did have an agent inside the Dundalk Garda station. The Smithwick Tribunal was established largely because of allegations from Toby Harnden in his book Bandit Country - The IRA and South Armagh that a Dundalk-based Garda helped the IRA kill the two RUC men. Harnden got his information from security force sources on both sides of the Border and although he refused to give evidence to Smithwick - presumably on the laudable grounds that he would not compromise his sources - I believed him.I believed him not just because I know him to be a reputable and ethical journalist but also because I was told the same, that a well known Dundalk Garda was in the back pocket of the IRA in South Armagh. My source was a well-placed member of the IRA whose position in the organisation was such that he was in a position to know all about the Garda agent. The details about the agent that I was given dovetail exactly with Harnden's information." [14] In 2016, Abebooks listed "Bandit Country" as the 14th most search for out of print book in the English language.[15] In 2019, novelist David Keenan named "Bandit Country" as one of the top 10 books written about the Irish Troubles, stating: One of my fascinations with Northern Ireland in the 1970s and 80s is how it became a place where different rules applied, where reality itself seemed up for grabs. Nowhere was this more the case than the "Provisional Republic" of South Armagh, AKA Bandit Country, with its handmade "sniper at work" signs and its community militias all surveyed by the watchtowers and helicopters of the British army. Toby Harnden's book is a compulsively fascinating tour of this alternative universe." [16] BBC journalist and author Peter Taylor, a veteran of more than three decades of reporting in Ireland, had named "Bandit Country" in his top 10 Irish Troubles books in 2002, concluding: "Courageous journalism and compulsive reading as Harnden goes inside the most impenetrable and deadly of the IRA Brigades. Good judgment; great sources." [17] In 2003, it was reported that the British authorities had tried to use possession of a copy of "Bandit Country" as evidence against an alleged Irish republican dissident accused of terrorist offences: "An attempt was also made to lodge the possession of Toby Handen's 'Bandit Country' as evidence against one of the accused." [18]

Dead Men Risen was published by Quercus Books in March 2011.[19] Publication was delayed after the Ministry of Defence objected to certain passages on "security" grounds. The book had already been cleared for publication by the MOD after a four-month review process that Harnden had agreed to as part of a contract that provided him with access to the Welsh Guards. Following a legal dispute between the MOD and Quercus, the MOD agreed to purchase all 24,000 copies of the first print run of the book, at a cost to the UK taxpayer of £151,450, and oversee their pulping.[20] It was well reviewed and reached number four on The Sunday Times bestseller list.[21][22] In May 2012, it was awarded the Orwell Prize for books.[23][24] Orwell prize judges Helena Kennedy, Miranda Carter and Sameer Rahim said: "It sometimes seems that we only care about the soldiers fighting in our names when they are killed. Once the platitudes are over we forget about them. Toby Harnden's remarkable book takes us into the hearts and minds of the Welsh Guards in a way that is both compelling and visceral. It challenges every citizen of this country to examine exactly what we're asking soldiers to do in Afghanistan. And rather than offering easy answers it lets the soldiers speak for themselves."[25]

Journalism career

Harnden started his career in journalism as a theatre reviewer at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for The Scotsman [26] and a writer of obituaries for The Independent.[27]

He began at The Daily Telegraph in 1994 as a home news reporter. He was posted to Belfast as the newspaper's Ireland Correspondent in March 1996, shortly after the IRA's first ceasefire had ended. He subsequently covered the IRA's second ceasefire, the Good Friday Agreement and the Omagh bombing of 1998 [28] Harnden was ordered by Lord Saville's Bloody Sunday Tribunal to hand over recordings and notes of his interviews with two anonymous Paratroopers who had been present during the 1972 killings. He refused to do so, arguing that it was his duty to protect the anonymity of his sources. [29] According to the Irish Times: "With contempt of court proceedings hanging over him, Mr Harnden faced a heavy fine or up to two years' imprisonment." [30] In June 2004, Saville dropped contempt proceedings with Harnden stating that he would never have revealed the identity of "Soldier X", who had opened fire on Bloody Sunday: "After countless hours spent attending hearings, consulting lawyers and poring over arcane documents, and some time spent reassuring my mother that it was only a small possibility I would go to prison, I no longer have that threat hanging over me." [31]

From 1999 to 2003, Harnden was Washington Bureau Chief of The Daily Telegraph. He reported from Washington during the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. He became Middle East Correspondent of The Daily Telegraph in October 2003 and was based in Jerusalem and then Baghdad. Harnden spent much of 2004 and 2005 covering the war in Iraq. He was a "unilateral" reporter during the siege of Najaf in August 2004 ref>"In Najaf, even the dead are suspected of carrying guns". The Daily Telegraph.</ref>and three months later was embedded with the US Army's Task Force 2-2 during the battle of Fallujah, including Staff Sergeant David Bellavia, later awarded the Medal of Honor. Of Bellavia's platoon, Harnden reported: "With Dope's 'Die Motherfucker Die' blaring out from the psychological operations Humvee, the Terminators entered Fallujah to go about their business in the way they know best. They played 'Rage Against the Machine' in the backs of their Bradleys and enjoyed the buzz of killing. When it was over, they sat laughing about the insurgents who had jumped out of closets to fight them or wrapped themselves in curtains to hide. They joked about the cat they'd seen eating the face of a corpse, about the fighter who had been 'fragged' by a grenade and shot several times but who still managed to jump off a roof and escape. They celebrated victory but most of all they were intoxicated by being alive."[32]

Harnden joined The Sunday Telegraph in January 2005 and was based in London as the newspaper's Chief Foreign Correspondent, traveling to report from Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Lebanon, Bahrain, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Austria, Italy, Estonia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, the United States and Thailand. [33] In May 2005, Harnden was imprisoned in Zimbabwe for 14 days after being arrested at a rural polling station on the day of the country's parliamentary elections and deported following acquittal on charges of illegally entering the country and "practicing journalism without accreditation".[34]

Harnden returned to Washington DC in May 2006 as a correspondent for The Sunday Telegraph and in October 2006 became United States Editor of The Daily Telegraph.[35] He covered the 2008 primaries[36] and general election, traveling extensively as part of the Obama campaign press corps.[37] Harnden drew attention to the problematic issue of white comedians using "blackfae" to depict Obama. He told CNN: Also, there's clearly the racial angle. I mean, most of the people involved in these programs are white. They're very, very sensitive about doing anything that could be seen as racist. Saturday Night Live's Fred Armison is a character who played Barack Obama quite well, I thought, sort of portrayed him as very sort of serious and ponderous and the media being in the tank for Obama. And Armison is part white and part Asian. And so, he was kind of blacked up for this role. And they got a lot of flak for that." [38]

Shortly before Obama was elected, Harnden told CNN that the Democratic nominee had benefited from an absence of media scrutiny: "But I do think there was something in what Hillary said that Obama was not being scrutinized by the press early on. I think she ran, you know, mistakenly I think as a candidate with experience with being ready on day one. When we now know that very clearly, this is a change election. But I think throughout this campaign, I've seen it even at rallies in very recent days, Obama is bordering on a cult of personality. He ends his speeches with, 'We are not going to just win this election. We are going to change America. And we are going to change the world.' And that's a very, very big ambition for a candidate." [39] From 2009 to 2011, Harnden wrote a weekly column for The Sunday Telegraph entitled "Toby Harnden's American Way".

Harnden was shortlisted for the UK's Press Gazette for Digital Journalist of the Year 2008.[40] In 2011, he was ranked at 27 in a list of Top 50 most influential media users of Twitter in the UK.[41] He left the Telegraph at the end of 2011 to join the Daily Mail.[42] In October 2012, it was announced that he would be joining The Sunday Times as Washington Bureau Chief in January 2013.[43]

In October, 2018, Harnden became the new managing editor of the Washington Examiner.[44] CNN reported that during Harnden's tenure as editor, there was a pervasive climate of "workplace terror and bullying."[44] CNN reported that "current and former employees described an abusive work environment in which Harnden... particularly targeted marginalized employees." One company employee told CNN: "He had an aggressive attitude toward almost anyone in the office." "[44] In February, 2020, Harnden departed from the Examiner and it was announced that the parent company of the Examiner was "enlisting a third-party to conduct a thorough investigation" into the Washington Examiner's workplace culture.[45][44]


  • Bandit Country -The IRA and South Armagh, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1999. ISBN 0-340-71736-X
  • Dead Men Risen: The Welsh Guards and the Real Story of Britain's War in Afghanistan, Quercus, London, 2011. ISBN 978-1-84916-421-4


  1. ^ "Toby Harnden Birth Notice". Scribd.
  2. ^ "Orwell Prize 2012 shortlists announced". Orwell Prize. Retrieved 2012.
  3. ^ "Afghan war book wins Orwell Prize for political writing". BBC News. 23 May 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  4. ^ "Toby Harnden Leaps to The Sunday Times".
  5. ^ "Opinion". The Telegraph. 16 March 2016 – via
  6. ^ "Broken by Battle, Panorama - BBC World News". BBC.
  7. ^ "People educated at St Bede's College, Manchester". Archived from the original on 27 January 2013.
  8. ^ "Dead Men Risen".
  9. ^ "Supplement". 24 October 1984.
  10. ^ Harnden, Toby (10 September 2011). "September 11: My life and the US changed forever". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  11. ^ "McCain's first ad of the general -- Obama and Clinton hold secret, "cordial" summit Chez Feinstein - McCain's Kermit-the-frog-green backdrop - Obama Underoos - The next first lady's designer". POLITICO.
  12. ^ "16 days till Inauguration -- Game on: The President-elect is scheduled to arrive at Andrews this evening -- Plus 'Article of the Month'". POLITICO.
  13. ^ O'Brien, Tim, Arthur Beesley, Dan Keenan (4 December 2013). "Garda collusion found in IRA murders of RUC officers". The Irish Times.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  14. ^ Moloney, Ed (29 January 2014). "The IRA Did Have An Agent In The Dundalk Gardai". The Broken Elbow.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  15. ^ "Most Searched For Out-of-Print Books of 2016". Abebooks. 2016.
  16. ^ "David Keenan - Top 10 books about the Troubles". Guardian.
  17. ^ "Peter Taylor's top 10 books on the Troubles". Guardian.
  18. ^ ""Belmarsh Five" Trial - Guilty Verdicts". Irish Freedom Committee.
  19. ^ "Dead Men Risen:The Welsh Guards and the Real Story of Britain's War in Afghanistan". Quercus. Retrieved 2012.
  20. ^ Rayner, Gordon (3 March 2011). "MoD pays £150,000 to pulp Afghanistan book after bureaucratic blunder". London: Retrieved 2012.
  21. ^ "Dead Men Risen is Number Four in Sunday Times bestseller list". twitpic. Retrieved 2012.
  22. ^ "Toby Harnden - Dead Men Risen - Reviews". Retrieved 2012.
  23. ^ "Orwell Prize 2012 shortlists announced". Orwell Prize. Retrieved 2012.
  24. ^ "Afghan war book wins Orwell Prize for political writing". BBC News. 23 May 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  25. ^ "Dead Men Risen:The Welsh Guards and the Real Story of Britain's War in Afghanistan | 2012 BOOK PRIZE WINNER".
  26. ^ "Toby Harnden The Scotsman Edinburgh Fringe". The Scotsman.
  27. ^ "Obituary of Admiral Sir Richard Fitch". Independent.
  28. ^ "Irish PM fingers Boss of 'New IRA'". Ottawa Citizen.
  29. ^ "Contempt charges dropped against Bloody Sunday journalist". Guardian.
  30. ^ "Bloody Sunday inquiry drops action against journalist". Irish Times.
  31. ^ "Saville Inquiry drops action against journalist". Irish Examiner.
  32. ^ "A cat ate the face of the corpse - Toby Harnden accompanies American troops as they fight the insurgents with everything they've got". The Spectator.
  33. ^ "Toby Harnden website biography".
  34. ^ "UK journalists 'leave Zimbabwe'". BBC News.
  35. ^ "Toby Harnden". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  36. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 20 June 2013. Retrieved 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  37. ^ Harnden, Toby (5 November 2008). "Barack Obama heralds new era in Chicago's symbolic Grant Park". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  38. ^ "CNN International Correspondents Transcript". 18 July 2008.
  39. ^ "CNN International Correspondents Transcript Oct 31 2008".
  40. ^ "British Press Awards 2008: the shortlist". Press Gazette. Archived from the original on 5 January 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  41. ^ Sedghi, Ami (7 November 2011). "The top 50 media users of Twitter: who is the most influential?". London: Retrieved 2012.
  42. ^ "Farewell to the Telegraph". London: 31 December 2011. Retrieved 2012.
  43. ^ Sean Ryan [@seanmatthewryan] (19 October 2012). "Toby Harnden @tobyharnden is Sunday Times Washington bureau chief from January. Christina Lamb returns to senior reporting role in London" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  44. ^ a b c d Darcy, Oliver (14 February 2020). "Inside the climate of 'workplace terror and bullying' at the Washington Examiner, a conservative media outlet on the rise". CNN. Archived from the original on 5 April 2020.
  45. ^ "How the Washington Examiner became a traffic monster". Columbia Journalism Review.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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