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June 16, 2022updated 07 Nov 2023 5:42am

Has Dom Phillips become 16th UK journalist killed doing their job since 2000?

By Charlotte Tobitt

UPDATE 16/6/22: Brazilian police say a suspect has led them to where the bodies of missing journalist Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira are buried.

The suspect and his brother have been arrested, though the latter “denies any involvement”, according to the BBC. Police say the suspect “recounted in detail the crime that was committed and indicated the place where he buried the bodies”.

Update 15/6/22: The Brazilian ambassador to the UK has apologised for telling Dom Phillips’ family his body and that of Bruno Pereira had been found. The envoy said the team at the embassy had been “misled” by investigating officials and “the search operation will go on, with no efforts being spared”.

Previous story, 14/6/22:

Conflicting reports have emerged from Brazil and the hunt for British journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian indigenous expert Bruno Pereira who are missing presumed dead in a remote part of the Amazon.

Brazilian news outlet G1 reported on Monday that Phillips’s wife Alessandra Sampaio had told them the bodies had been found. The report has not yet been confirmed by Brazilian authorities.

But The Guardian reported that the Brazilian ambassador to the UK broke the news to Phillips’s family on the phone on Monday morning. His brother-in-law Paul Sherwood said: “He said he wanted us to know that… they had found two bodies. He didn’t describe the location and just said it was in the rainforest and he said they were tied to a tree and they hadn’t been identified yet.”

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But according to Brazilian police quoted in the Daily Mail, the search continues.

Eliesio Marubo, a lawyer for UNIVAJA which has organised search teams, is quoted in the Mail: “I’ve spoken with the team in the field and it’s not true. The search goes on.”

It is feared that Phillips has become the 16th British journalist killed doing their job since 2000 and the first since Lyra McKee was shot dead while reporting on rioting in Derry in April 2019.

Former Mixmag editor Phillips, who has lived in Brazil for more than a decade, was on a reporting trip when he went missing. He was in the process of writing a book entitled How to Save the Amazon.

It has been reported that Phillips and Pereira had received threats on Saturday 4 June, the day before they went missing.

The reported discovery came after police found a backpack and a pair of boots belonging to Phillips, as well as a health card, black pants, a black sandal and a pair of boots belonging to Pereira. They also previously found blood on a suspect’s boat.

Phillips has previously been shortlisted in Press Gazette’s British Journalism Awards 2020 as part of a Bureau of Investigative Journalism team reporting on deforestation in the Amazon tied to the beef trade. He has also written for the likes of The GuardianThe New York Times and The Washington Post.

A crowdfunding page set up to support the families of the pair has surpassed its $20,000 goal.

The other journalists killed doing their jobs since 2000 include: Sunday World investigative journalist Martin O’Hagan, ITV News correspondent Terry Lloyd in Iraq, Sunday Times foreign correspondent Marie Colvin in Syria, BBC producer Kate Peyton in Somalia, Sunday Mirror foreign correspondent Rupert Hamer in Afghanistan, and Sky News cameraman Mick Deane in Egypt.

Picture: Chris J Ratcliffe/Greenpeace

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