Gavin MacFadyen, who has died aged 76, was an American socialist filmmaker, journalist and activist who made a major contribution to the development of investigative journalism in Britain. Born in Colorado in 1940, he grew up in Chicago, and in his late teens joined the Young People’s Socialist League, the youth section of the Socialist Party of America. Bernie Sanders was once in an adjacent police cell.
Gavin arrived in London around 1960 as a draft-dodger and joined the International Socialists. He attended the London Film School, then worked for Granada’s World in Action documentary series.
From 1970 to the present, he was a senior producer-director of many programmes for World in Action, Channel 4’s Dispatches, BBC's Fine Cut, 24 Hours, Panorama, The Money Programme, Multi Cultural Birmingham,and PBS Frontline.
The subjects ranged from nuclear proliferation to child labour, the torture of political prisoners in Turkey and Bolivia, British industrial accidents, Chinese criminal societies, the history of the CIA, Guyana election fraud, Watergate, maritime safety, sanctions-busting and the Iraq arms trade.
In 1978 he made an acclaimed film about the National Front.These investigations were researched, directed and produced in Britain, Ecuador, Guyana, South Africa, Mexico, Hong Kong, Thailand, Russia, the US, Sweden, India and Turkey.
In 2003, he founded the Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIJ), and as director of CIJ encouraged Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks to reveal the truth about the shady affairs of the US State Department and the CIA. Gavin was a tireless defender of justice and human rights throughout the world, with what almost amounted to a vendetta against the state and the corporations.
He remained good friends with many of his IS/SWP comrades to the end. He was a larger than life character and a much-respected figure in political journalism.