Students enjoy John Sweeney guest lecture

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BBC Panorama's John Sweeney at a special guest lecture for Journalism students at LJMU. Pic by Connor Dunn © JMU Journalism

John Sweeney at a guest lecture for Journalism students at LJMU. Pic by Connor Dunn © JMU Journalism

BBC Panorama journalist John Sweeney gave students a fascinating insight into his documentary work during a special guest lecture at JMU Journalism this week.

Sweeney, whose award-winning career has included helping to free seven people falsely accused of killing their babies and reporting on wars, revolutions and conflicts in 80 countries, came to Liverpool on Tuesday to explain the background to some of his most well-known investigations.

The brave and occasionally controversial reporter treated the audience to an engaging series of tales about going undercover in North Korea, plus ambushing Russian President Vladimir Putin into a ‘doorstep’ interview in Siberia, and his infamous outburst while making a programme about Scientology.

More recently, the 56-year-old presented Panorama’s ‘Fake Sheikh Exposed’ documentary, which was delayed by legal challenges from journalist Mazher Mahmood, who was attempting to block his face being revealed – something which has been a closely-guarded secret for decades.

JMU Journalism TV report by Daniel Wilson

After his talk, Sweeney held a questions and answers session with the students, offering prizes of signed books to those queries he jokingly judged to be “the most irritating”. Jana Sutenko, who challenged the author and broadcaster on his views about Russia, was the proud recipient of one of his books.

The Lithuanian International Journalism student said: “It was really interesting to meet John and hear about his experiences. Although I didn’t agree with some of the things he said concerning Russia’s policies, I still enjoyed his speech a lot.

Investigative journalist John Sweeney at LJMU in Liverpool. Pic by Connor Dunn © JMU Journalism

Investigative journalist John Sweeney at LJMU in Liverpool. Pic by Connor Dunn © JMU Journalism

“He is a role model for all journalists, especially the ones like me who want to be foreign correspondents.”

Jana added: “I can tell he is so passionate about his work and is obviously trying to be the best at what he does. I was surprised to win a book but I will read it and enjoy learning more about life in North Korea.”

Although he mainly grew up in the Channel Islands and now lives in London, Sweeney has Scouse family connections as his mother Barbara hails from Liverpool and father Leonard from Birkenhead, which led the BBC man to pledge his football allegiance to Tranmere Rovers.

Before heading home via Lime Street Station, Sweeney told JMU Journalism: “I love coming back up to Liverpool  – I always have and I always will do because of its heart, soul and wit. My visit to John Moores University today was huge fun and I met some smart people in a great city.”

Additional reporting by Holly Jones, Karen Coe & Natalie Townsend 

Photo galleries by Connor Dunn. Click on a thumbnail to enlarge the images

BBC Panorama's John Sweeney gave a special guest lecture for Journalism students at LJMU. Pic by Connor Dunn © JMU Journalism

BBC Panorama's John Sweeney came to Liverpool for a special guest lecture for Journalism students at LJMU. Pic by Connor Dunn © JMU Journalism

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