UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised to take steps to protect military personnel from what he describes as vexatious legal claims. It’s a controversial stance as armed conflicts, from Northern Ireland to Iraq, have thrown up serious allegations of criminal wrongdoing by soldiers. Former Royal Marine Alexander Blackman was convicted of murder while serving in Afghanistan in 2011. He served three years in prison and, after a long legal struggle, his conviction was reduced to...
The British film and TV producer Tony Garnett died last week, aged 83. In 2016 Stephen Sackur spoke to him about his life and pioneering work which began in the 1960s. The subject matter he tackled included homelessness, illegal abortion and police corruption, and uncovered dark corners in British life. But how much of his motivation came from the dark corners in his own life?
Who polices the shadowy world of private intelligence? HARDtalk’s Sarah Montague speaks to Seth Freedman, who was an investigator for Black Cube, and gathered information for its client, the disgraced media mogul Harvey Weinstein. Does he regret what he did?
Though the fear of imminent war has receded, the Middle East has been profoundly destabilised by the American assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. The unfolding US-Iran conflict will impact the whole region, not least Iraq, where the Iranians are intent on hastening the end of America’s military presence. Stephen Sackur interviews Douglas Silliman, former US ambassador to Iraq until a year ago. Does Trump have a strategy - and if so, what is it?
Stephen Sackur is at the workshop of Britain’s most successful sculptor, Sir Antony Gormley. His monumental pieces, put in prominent positions in outdoor spaces, have become some of the world’s most famous examples of public art. His inspiration is the human body, in fact, his own body. So what does his work tell us about his relationship with the world around him?
Who’s gained and who’s lost after the killing of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani? HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Vali Nasr, US foreign policy scholar and former adviser to the US State Department. Phase one of the fallout from America’s assassination of Iran's favourite General appears to be over. Washington and Tehran are both talking tough while taking a step back from the brink of all out war. For now. What might happen next?
America’s targeted killing of Iran’s top general, Qasem Soleimani, has spread new fears of war across the Middle East. The key protagonists are in Washington and Tehran, but the main stage for the conflict may well be Iraq, as Soleimani was assassinated in Baghdad. Iraq is now under intense pressure to pick sides. Stephen Sackur interviews Ayad Allawi, who was the country’s vice-president twice. Does the current crisis spell disaster for Iraq?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Malcolm Gladwell, the Canadian author who has been described as America’s most famous intellectual. His latest book, Talking to Strangers, challenges the assumptions we make about trust and truth. But how far can we trust Malcolm Gladwell?
The scale of the Conservative Party triumph in last week's UK election promises to have seismic consequences. Boris Johnson can get Brexit done on terms and a timetable of his choosing, with Parliamentary approval guaranteed. Not since Margaret Thatcher has a Tory leader had such an opportunity to remake Britain. Hardtalk speaks to Conservative MP and former cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell. Boris Johnson has been handed immense power - what will he do with it? (Photo: Conservative MP and...
At the end of the second decade of the 21st century, does anyone still believe in the ability of the so-called ‘international community’ to stop wars, disarm dictators and protect civilians? One can decide by looking at the scale of suffering in Syria, the renewed unrest across the Middle East and the imminent American withdrawal from Afghanistan. Stephen Sackur interviews Staffan de Mistura, who has been a UN envoy in all of those places over the last decade. Is it time to acknowledge the...
Sometimes it takes an outsider armed with just a sharp eye and curiosity to get us to see ourselves as we really are. That would explain the enduring popularity of the American-born writer Bill Bryson, whose wry take on Britain and the British has generated two best-selling books. From the mysteries of afternoon tea to the power of the human brain, what has Bill Bryson learned from his gentle search for understanding? Photo: Bill Bryson at the Cheltenham Literary Festival Credit: Getty Images
The fight for Afghanistan's future has been joined far beyond the frontlines between Government forces and the Taliban. Stephen Sackur interviews Aryana Sayeed, who is engaged in the struggle by using her own potent weapons: her voice, her songs and a spirit of defiance. She is Afghanistan’s biggest pop star, and has braved death threats to campaign for women’s rights and artistic freedom. Is this a fight she can win?
Can complex truths be revealed using digital fragments from the worldwide web? Eliot Higgins is the founder of the investigative website Bellingcat, which in recent years has broken a series of scoops. Bellingcat has exposed the depth of Russian military involvement in the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine; it revealed the identities of two key Russian suspects in the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal; most recently, it has provided damning detail about the...
Holding placards outside the funerals of dead soldiers, celebrating the death of children after school massacres: Westboro Baptist Church has been called the "most obnoxious and rabid hate group in America". From the age of 5, Megan Phelps-Roper had stood on the picket lines, and carried those hate-filled signs. But as an adult firing off tweets to her online critics, Megan began to doubt. Shaun Ley speaks to Megan Phelps-Roper in London. Can Megan really still regard those who abused her...
Eighteen years since the 9/11 attack on the United States, and the impact still reverberates even as memories fade. The US Government responded by adopting a counter-terror strategy embracing ‘enhanced interrogation’, a euphemism for torture. Stephen Sackur interviews Daniel Jones, who led a six year investigation into the CIA’s darkest secrets. Now his story has been turned into a movie; but did America cease to care, long ago?
In 2013, the Australian Government adopted a draconian anti-immigration policy, which involved sending all sea-borne would-be asylum seekers to de-facto detention camps in remote Papua New Guinea and Micronesia. Stephen Sackur interviews one of them. Behrouz Boochani is an Iranian Kurd who has written about his extraordinary six-year experience as a marooned migrant. He’s now a prize-winning author, but is his long-term fate any clearer?
In a special edition of HARDtalk, Stephen Sackur is on the road in Zimbabwe to witness the effects of change in Southern Africa’s climate. Zimbabwe in the post-Mugabe era is wrestling with an economic crisis, endemic corruption and widespread poverty, which leaves Zimbabweans extremely vulnerable in the face of prolonged drought. Crops have failed, hydro power is down and taps have run dry. Can Zimbabwe adapt to looming environmental crisis?
The American TV series The Wire, which methodically dissected America’s war with drugs, was an eye-opener for many. Shaun Ley interviews Wendell Pierce, whose role as Detective Bunk Moreland brought him international attention. Now he’s on stage in London as the protagonist in Arthur Miller’s play Death of a Salesman. But it was Hurricane Katrina that defined him, when he rolled up his own sleeves when his childhood home was smashed. After his city’s darkest hour, when help failed to come,...
Is Chinese leader Xi Jinping facing the most serious challenge of his presidency? The significance of the political unrest in Hong Kong stretches far beyond the borders of its territory. If Beijing cannot quell the calls for freedom in Hong Kong, what does that tell us about the sustainability of its authoritarian rule elsewhere? Stephen Sackur speaks to China’s Ambassador in London, Liu Xiaoming.
Zimbabwe is wrestling with economic crisis, endemic corruption and prolonged drought. Crops have failed, hydro-power is down, taps have run dry. Also at risk is the country's wildlife population – animals and people are now in a desperate competition for resources. Mangaliso Ndlovu is Zimbabwe's Environment minister. Does his government have a plan to avert environmental disaster?