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October 12, 2012updated 16 Oct 2012 2:59pm

23. British journalism’s greatest ever scoops: Jonathan of Arabia (World in Action, David Leigh, 1995)

By Richard Wilson

David Leigh was the reporter behind this edition of the nowdefunct ITV current affairs programme which revealed that Jonathan Aitken, the Cabinet minister for defence procurement, had benefited from bribes paid to Saudi royalty to arrange arms deals.

Leigh’s investigation also resulted in a front-page story for The Guardian.

Three hours before the World In Action report was due to be screened Aitken called a press conference in which he memorably said: “If it falls to me to start a fight to cut out the cancer of bent and twisted journalism in our country with the simple sword of truth and the trusty shield of British fair play, so be it.”

A libel case collapsed in 1997 after The Guardian produced evidence that Aitken had lied about his wife paying for a hotel bill at the Paris Ritz hotel. In 1999 he was jailed for 18 months for perjury and perverting the cause of justice.

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