Ian Birrell Keynote Speaker

  • Foreign Correspondent and Columnist of the Year at the British Press Awards.
  • Former speech writer for David Cameron.
  • Co-founder with Damon Albarn of Africa Express, promoting African music and bringing musicians from all over the world together.

Ian Birrell's Biography

Ian Birrell is the Foreign Reporter of the Year (2015) and Columnist of the Year (2015) at the British Press Awards – a unique double win reflecting his unusual range of journalism, informed by his wide experiences and reporting on the ground.

He is a contributing editor of The Mail on Sunday as foreign reporter and political commentator. He has a weekly column in the ‘i’ paper and also writes for many other outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Daily Mail, The Observer, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Times, The Sun, The Spectator and Mosaic.

Ian is a Foreign correspondent who has reported from more than 50 countries across the globe over the past six years. Before that he worked at top level of national newspapers for more than two decades, holding senior executive positions at The Sunday Times, The Daily Mail and Sunday Express before becoming deputy editor-in-chief of The Independent for 12 years until March 2010.

He appears as a frequent broadcaster on television and radio, including Newsnight, Channel 4 News, The Andrew Marr Show, Dateline London, Today, PM, 5Live and The World Tonight. He presented and wrote a BBC Panorama documentary of Texas prison reforms.

In the run up to the 2010 election, Ian was an adviser and speech-writer for David Cameron.

He is also co-founder with Damon Albarn of Africa Express, which promotes African music and brings together musicians from around the world. They have organised trips to four African nations and staged acclaimed concerts in the UK, Denmark, France, Germany, Holland, Spain, Turney and Nigeria. During the London Olympic festivities they took a train filled with musicians around Britain, More recently, they reformed a Syrian Orchestra and choir to tour Europe with well-known Western artists. Through his work with Africa Express, Ian is executive producer of four albums.

He is married with two children, the youngest of whom has profound and multiple learning difficulties.

Other awards that Ian has won include The London Press Club’s prestigious Edgar Wallace Award (2014) for fine writing and reporting. He was highly commended as Foreign Report (2011) and Feature Writer (2013) at the British Press Awards. He has also been shortlisted in 13 other awards for columns, feature writing, foreign and news reporting, economic analysis, political journalism and ‘contrarianism’ since 2011.

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