|Roger Cook prepares a piece to camera for Abuse of Trust documentary
Earlier this year I had the pleasure to work with the legendary investigative journalist Roger Cook for a documentary we helped produce for the BBC titled An Abuse of Trust. The film will be screened on Tuesday at 10.35pm on BBC1 and tells the story of how an Oxford University educated paedophile school teacher was freed from prison only to change his identity by stealing the details of a young boy buried in a Derbyshire graveyard. Derek Slade then went on to dupe various charities and set up his own schools abroad abusing young schoolchildren until the authorities finally caught up with him in 2010.
I will let the documentary speak for itself, but I have to pay tribute to Roger for his persistence and professionalism in helping to get the story onto the screen. In the current climate of journalist-bashing which seeps from the open wound of “hackgate”, it is wonderful to still have people of Roger’s calibre working to uncover dark secrets and the impact of those upon ordinary people. Through the seventies, via BBC radio’s Checkpoint programme, then through the eighties and nineties with The Cook Report, Roger paved the way for a particular kind of confrontational broadcast journalism.
He became known as the “Taped Crusader”, gaining a reputation as one of the bravest and most beaten up reporter working on the airwaves. It is worth remembering that without him there would have been no Paul Kenyon, Donal McIntyre or a host of other young bucks who have followed in his path but rarely equalled him in audience figures or respect. I can confirm that the camera still loves Roger and though he recently racked up 68 years on his body clock he can still deliver those wonderful understated pieces to camera which makes the viewer rightly outraged at the wrongs that permeate our society. Roger, I salute you.