John Sweeney

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John Sweeney is a journalist who works for the BBC current affairs programme Panorama.[1]


Faked Funerals in 2002

In 2002 Sweeney reported on 'faking of the mass baby funerals' in Iraq:

'You may have seen them on TV. Small white coffins parading through the streets of Baghdad on the roofs of taxis, an angry crowd of mourners, condemning Western sanctions for killing the children of Iraq. They used to collect children's bodies and put them in freezers for two, three or even six or seven months Usefully, the ages of the dead babies - "three days old", "four days old" - are written in English on the coffins. I wonder who did that'.[2]

Sweeney's source argued that 'they arrange the mass funerals. The logic being, the more dead babies, the better for Saddam. That way, he can weaken public support in the West for sanctions'.[3]

Mark Seddon described John Sweeney's report as 'an authored, polemicised report that was a classic case of advocacy journalism'. He went on to say that 'An important opportunity afforded by rare access to Iraq and Kurdistan to report objectively on the effects of economic sanctions was, I believe, lost'.[4]

Depleted Uranium Debate 2003

Writing in The Spectator in June 2003, John Sweeney launched a scathing attack on John Pilger for arguing that birth defects in Iraq had been caused by depleted uranium weaponry deployed during the first Gulf war. Sweeney argued that:

"None of the cancers and birth defects that Pilger's researcher dates back to 1992 can be the fault of depleted uranium. To omit the possibility that some of the cancers were caused by Saddam's chemical weapons is to misrepresent the facts. To imply by that omission that depleted uranium is solely responsible for the cancers and birth defects in Iraq as he does in his book, his film and in the Daily Mirror is a disgrace to journalism. I accuse John Pilger of cheating the public and favouring a dictator".[5]


  1. John Sweeney, John Sweeney's Blog, BBC, Accessed 10-July-2010
  2. John Sweeney, Iraq's Tortured Children, BBC News, 22-June-2002, Accessed 10-July-2010
  3. John Sweeney, Iraq's Tortured Children, BBC News, 22-June-2002, Accessed 10-July-2010
  4. Mark Seddon, A shameful attack, The Guardian, 1-July-2002, Accessed 10-July-2010
  5. John Sweeney, The first casualty of Pilger..., The Spectator, 28-June-2003, Accessed 10-July-2010