John Kampfner

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John Kampfner

Jonathan Paul Kampfner (born 27 December 1962) is a journalist best known for being the editor of the New Statesman from 2005 to 2008. In August 2008 he was appointed Chief Executive of Index on Censorship.

Education and career

Kampfner attended Westminster School, the elite London public school, and then attended Queen’s College, Oxford where he took a BA in Modern History and Russian.[1]

Kampfner began his career as a foreign correspondent with the Daily Telegraph, first in East Berlin where he reported on the fall of the Wall and the unification of Germany, and then in Moscow at the time of the coup and the collapse of Soviet Communism. On returning to the UK in the mid-1990s, he became Chief Political Correspondent at the Financial Times and political commentator for the BBC's Today programme.[2]

In 2002 he won the Foreign Press Association award for Film of the Year and Journalist of the Year for his two-parter on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, called The Ugly War. His 2003 film War Spin, exposing the propaganda behind the rescue of Jessica Lynch, received considerable publicity in the US and UK"[3].

In 2002 he joined the New Statesman as political editor and he headed the magazine from 2005. On 14 February 2008, the New Statesman issued the announcement of Kamfner's departure "with immediate effect"[4]. Kampfner’s departure was unexpectedly and there were rumours that he had fallen out with the magazine’s proprietor Geoffrey Robinson. Robinson’s closeness to Gordon Brown led The Times to suggest that his departure was related to the fact that “the title has unearthed stories embarrassing to Mr Brown and his ministers.”[5]

Editorial intelligence

John Kampfner joined the advisory board of the PR company Editorial Intelligence in 2005 [6], a position he resigned from in April 2006.[7]

In an article in the New Statesman on the relationship between media and PR workers, Peter Wilby writes:

Media and PR workers have similar backgrounds, hold similar views, live in similar houses and go to similar plays. They dine, socialise and sleep together. Journalists often move to PR in mid-career and sometimes back again; a few work simultaneously in both camps. I'd reckon at least 90 per cent of newspaper content has had some PR or spin-doctor input. And newspapers employ PRs to plant favourable stories in other papers". [8]

Policy world

In 2002 Kampfner contributed as a speaker at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) event "Illuminations: Arms: The missing link in Labour's foreign policy?"[9], alonside Glenys Kinnock MEP; David Mepham of IPPR; Paul Eavis of Saferworld and Keith Hayward of the Society of British Aerospace. This event was supported by Saferworld and the New Statesman.

Hill & Knowlton's guide to the 2003 Labour Party Conference[10] includes Kampfner as a Speaker for a meeting called "Disunited nations: the UN after Iraq" which also included Jack Straw MP; Clare Short MP; Michael Gove of The Times as speakers and Sunder Katwala of the Fabian Society as Chair. He also acted as "Chair" at a subsequent meeting called "Nuclear power: yes please?" with speakers Brian Wilson MP and Geoffrey Robinson (the latter the proprietor of the "New Statesman").

Personal life

Kampfner is married to the BBC journalist Lucy Ash.


  • John Kampfner, Dangerous Liaisons: Blair, Britain and the Failure of Europe, Free Press (1 Oct 2007).
  • John Kampfner, Blair's Wars, Free Press; New Ed edition (7 June 2004).
  • John Kampfner, Robin Cook, Phoenix (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd ); New Ed edition (7 Oct 1999).
  • John Kampfner, Inside Yeltsin's Russia: Corruption, Conflict, Capitalism, Cassell Illustrated; New Ed edition (17 Aug 1995).


Contact, References and Resources





  1. ‘KAMPFNER, John Paul’, Who's Who 2008, A & C Black, 2008; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2007
  2., Profile (accessed 21 August 2008)
  3. Knight Ayton website, Kampfner Knight Ayton (accessed 8 October 2007)
  4. Owen Gibson, Kampfner quits as editor of the New Statesman, Guardian, 14 February 2008.
  5. Dan Sabbagh, ‘‘Falling-out with owner’ sees John Kampfner quit at New Statesman’, The Times, 14 February 2008
  6. Peter Wilby The Medium Column – Peter Wilby New Statesman 17th April 2006. Accessed 8th October 2007
  7. John Plunkett, “Press and PR partnership - networking or not working? Guardian Unlimited 10th April 2006. Accessed 8th October 2007
  8. Peter Wilby, The medium column, New Statesman, 17 April 2006.
  9. "Illuminations: Arms: The missing link in Labour's foreign policy?" Institute for Public Policy. 30th September 2002. Accessed 8th october 2007
  10. "Hill & Knowlton: Our Guide to the Labour Party Fringe 2003" Hill & Knowlton 2003. Accessed 8th October 2007