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Spies, Spin and the Fourth Estate

New book from City academic uncovers the turbulent relationship between British Intelligence and the media

by Matthew Little (Communications Officer)

New book from former national security correspondent and Head of the Department of Journalism at City, University of London, Dr Paul Lashmar, explores the turbulent relationship between the British Secret State and the media. Spies, Spin and the Fourth Estate

Authored by award-winning investigative journalist, Dr Paul Lashmar, the text, ‘Spies, Spin and the Fourth Estate British Intelligence and the Media’ was published by Edinburgh University Press.

Drawing on his first-hand experiences of reporting as a former national security correspondent, Dr Lashmar explores a series of major case studies including Snowden, WikiLeaks, Spycatcher, rendition and torture, and MI5’s vetting of the BBC.

The book also addresses issues that news coverage raises for democracy and fosters a deeper understanding of how intelligence and the media work within structures of power and knowledge.

Speaking on the launch of his book, Dr Lashmar said: “The worlds of spying and journalism have always been intertwined, sometimes intimate and sometimes confrontational.

“At its most fraught, interaction between spies and journalists has been a battle over the primacy of national security versus freedom of speech.

“As we look ahead to a new Official Secrets Act and the effect of the Russia Report on the UK's democracy, it's essential to understand how journalists have held intelligence agencies to account in the past.”

Gillian Leslie, Senior Commissioning Editor at Edinburgh University Press, said: “Spies, Spin and the Fourth Estate raises urgent questions about the balance between democracy and security.

“From the First World War to Britain's involvement in extraordinary rendition and torture, Paul Lashmar unpicks the tumultuous relationship between British intelligence and the media.”


About Dr Paul Lashmar

Dr Paul Lashmar, Head of the Department of Journalism at City, University of London has published six books, including Siege: Six Days at the Iranian Embassy Paperback – 1 May 1980 (1980); Scotland Yard's Cocaine Connection (1990); Spyflights of the Cold War (1996); Britain's Secret Propaganda War: Foreign Office and the Cold War, 1948-77 (1998); Online Journalism: The Essential Guide (2013) and Spies, Spin and the Fourth Estate British Intelligence and the Media (2020).

He has been an investigative journalist in television and print and on the staff of The Observer, Granada Television’s World in Action current affairs series and The Independent newspapers. In 1986, he was joint winner of 'Reporter of the Year' at the British Press Award, primarily for revealing the MI5’s political vetting of BBC staff.

As Head of the Department of Journalism at City, University of London. Dr Lashmar has written extensively about the world of spying, intelligence and terrorism for four decades.


For more information on purchasing Spies, Spin and the Fourth Estate British Intelligence and the Media, see Edinburgh University Press.

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