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openDemocracy appoints Jim Fitzpatrick as ‘dirty money’ reporter

Experienced BBC Northern Ireland journalist joins Ruby Lott-Lavigna, Ben Webster and Kateryna Semchuk as openDemocracy expands reporting roster

5 September 2022, 9.48am

(clockwise from top left) Jim Fitzpatrick, Ruby Lott-Lavigna, Ben Webster and Kateryna Semchuk

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Jim Fitzpatrick, Ruby Lott-Lavigna, Ben Webster and Kateryna Semchuk

openDemocracy has appointed Jim Fitzpatrick as ‘dirty money’ reporter, the latest in a series of key hires.

Jim joins openDemocracy after more than two decades at BBC Northern Ireland, where his roles included presenting the award-winning Spotlight investigations series.

Jim’s reporting role at openDemocracy will focus on political funding, corruption and influence in British politics and the role of British corporate structures in facilitating corruption both in the UK and internationally.

The newly created role is part of an ongoing focus on openDemocracy’s award-winning investigations.

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Ruby Lott-Lavigna has joined openDemocracy as news and politics reporter after four years at Vice, where she was a senior reporter focussing on housing, politics and inequality.

She has appeared on Newsnight, Al Jazeera and BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour, and most recently was on BBC Radio 5 Live speaking about her first openDemocracy piece on rising rents.

Ben Webster joins openDemocracy later this month in a part-time role focusing on investigations into climate, environment and biodiversity. Ben joins after 24 years at The Times, ten of them as environment editor.

In July, Kateryna Semchuk joined openDemocracy as our Ukraine reporter, covering the human and socio-economic cost of Russia's all-out war on the country. Previously, she was an editor at Political Critique Ukraine, which focused on stories connected to gender, labour, social policy and the environment in Ukraine.

openDemocracy’s editor-in-chief, Peter Geoghegan, said: “I am delighted to be welcoming a journalist of Jim's calibre to the team. It is a testament to our commitment to covering dark money in politics, showing how rich, powerful and unaccountable figures from around the world can buy influence unseen in the UK.

“Jim will also be exploring how these types use the British courts to silence opposition with the use of SLAPPS – strategic lawsuits against public participation.

“Jim’s arrival is one of a number of key reporting hires openDemocracy has made.

“Ruby Lott-Lavigna is a journalist with a very, very bright future. Her commitment to her work and the beats she covers is a sight to see – she has already made a huge difference to our UK news coverage with hard-hitting stories on the cost-of-living and housing crises. Ruby will also be reporting from Westminster, bringing the unique openDemocracy perspective to the politics beat.

“And I’m looking forward to Ben bringing his vast knowledge of environmental issues to bear on openDemocracy’s mission to challenge power and inspire change in the biggest issue facing us all right now – the crisis of the climate.”

"Kateryna brings a vital focus to our work on Russia's war against Ukraine, putting people and their problems at the centre of our coverage," said Eurasia editor Tom Rowley.

"Just look at her stories so far: from a micro-history of the Russian invasion as experienced in one Kyiv village to the torture and humiliation faced by Ukrainians sent to Russian jails, or miners protesting the return of corruption in the coal sector. We're hugely excited to have her with us."

Commenting on his new role, Jim Fitzpatrick said: “This is a wonderful opportunity to join a brilliant team doing important work at a critical time for democracy and journalism. There’s a lot to dig into and I simply can’t wait to get started.”

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