Tim Luckhurst

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Tim Luckhurst
Timothy Colin Harvey Luckhurst

(1963-01-08) 8 January 1963 (age 61)
Alma mater Robinson College, Cambridge
Occupation(s)Journalist and academic
Employer(s) Durham University, BBC
SpouseDorothy (née Williamson)

Timothy Colin Harvey Luckhurst (born 8 January 1963) is a British journalist and academic, currently principal of South College of Durham University and an associate pro-vice-chancellor. Between 2007 and 2019 he was professor of Journalism at the University of Kent, [1] and the founding head of the university's Centre for Journalism. [2]


Luckhurst began his career as a journalist on BBC Radio 4's flagship Today programme before becoming a member of the team that designed and launched BBC Radio 5 Live. Between 1995 and 1997, he served as bi-media editor of national radio and television news programmes at BBC Scotland. [3] He joined The Scotsman newspaper in 1997 as Assistant Editor (News) and was promoted to the role of Deputy Editor in 1998, before briefly becoming the editor in 2000. [4]

Early life and career

Luckhurst was born in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England. [5] He was educated at Peebles High School in the Scottish Borders. [1] He studied history at Robinson College, Cambridge, graduating in 1983. [1] [5]

Between 1985 and 1988 he worked as parliamentary press officer for Donald Dewar (then Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland) and for the Scottish Labour group of MPs at Westminster. He stood as the Labour candidate for the Roxburgh and Berwickshire constituency at the 1987 general election. [6] He was critical of the party in 2001 [7] and joined the Scottish Conservatives in 2005. [8]

Luckhurst is a member of the editorial board of the media outlet The Conversation UK. [9] and a member of the Advisory Council of the anti racism campaign Don't Divide Us. [10]



Between 1987 and 1995, Luckhurst worked for the BBC on Radio 4's Today and was a member of the editorial team that designed and launched BBC Radio 5 Live. [11] He covered the Romanian Revolution and the First Gulf War. He was the BBC's Washington, D.C. producer during the first year of the Clinton presidency and reported on the Waco Siege for BBC Radio. From 1995 to 1997 he was editor of national radio and television news programmes at BBC Scotland. Later he reported on the liberation of Kosovo and the fall of Slobodan Milošević for The Scotsman. Luckhurst joined The Scotsman as Assistant Editor in January 1997. He became Deputy Editor in January 1998 and was appointed Acting Editor in January 2000. He served as editor of The Scotsman between February and May 2000. [12] [13] Luckhurst was diagnosed with clinical depression and took medical leave. He claimed to have been "sacked as a direct consequence of my diagnosis." [14]

Luckhurst is the author of Reporting the Second World War - The Press and the People 1939-1945 (London, Bloomsbury Academic 2023) [15] ','This Is Today – A Biography of the Today Programme (London, Aurum Press 2001) and Responsibility Without Power: Lord Justice Leveson's Constitutional Dilemma (Abramis Academic 2013) [16] and co-wrote Assessing the Delivery of BBC Radio 5 Live's Public Service Commitments (Abramis Academic 2019). [17]

In 2010, Luckhurst wrote a chapter Compromising the First Draft for the book Afghanistan War and the Media. [18] In 2017, he contributed a chapter entitled Online and On Death Row: Historicising Newspapers in Crisis to the Routledge Companion to British Media History. [19] He also contributed a chapter to the book, The Phone Hacking Scandal: Journalism on Trial. This chapter formed the basis of his submission to the Leveson Inquiry. [20]

He has written for various publications including The Independent , The Guardian , [21] the New Statesman , The Spectator , The Times , [11] The New Republic , [22] The Los Angeles Times , [23] and The Globe and Mail . [24]

Academic career

In June 2007 he became professor of journalism and the news industry at the University of Kent's new Centre for Journalism. [25] Luckhurst's academic research explores newspaper journalism during the first and second world wars and the era of appeasement. He has published in journals including Journalism Studies, [26] Contemporary British History, [27] 1914 -1918 Online: The International Encyclopedia of the First World War, [28] British Journalism Review [29] Ethical Space: The International Journal of Communication Ethics [30] and George Orwell Studies. [31] In May 2017 Luckhurst gave the keynote lecture Inspiring critical and ethical journalism at the Orwell Society's annual conference. [32] His work has also been published in academic collections including Writing the First World War after 1918. [33]

At Kent, Luckhurst was a member of the team that launched KM Television, [34] a local television station for Kent and Medway; he was a director of KM Television Ltd between 2016 and 2019. [35] In 2012, Luckhurst was interviewed by The New York Times about the BBC's changes to its journalistic standards and bureaucratic procedures. Following a number of scandals, Luckhurst believed the problem to be that the BBC "wanted systems that could take responsibility instead of people.” [36] As Head of the University of Kent's Centre for Journalism, Luckhurst led opposition to Lord Justice Leveson's proposal for officially sanctioned regulation of the British press. In Responsibility without Power: Lord Justice Leveson's Constitutional Dilemma he argued that 'An officially regulated press is the glib, easy, dangerous solution. It would spell the slow, painful death of a raucous, audacious and impertinent press able to speak truth to power on behalf of its readers and entertaining enough to secure their loyalty'. [37]

In November 2019 he joined Durham University as the principal of the new South College, [38] and associate pro-vice-chancellor (engagement).


The Wind That Shakes the Barley

On 31 May 2006, The Guardian columnist George Monbiot criticised Luckhurst for his reaction to the film The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006). [39] Luckhurst described it as a "poisonously anti-British corruption of the history of the war of Irish independence" and compared director Ken Loach to Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl. [40] Responding to Luckhurst's claims, Monbiot wrote: "Occupations brutalise both the occupiers and the occupied. It is our refusal to learn that lesson which allows new colonial adventures to take place. If we knew more about Ireland, the invasion of Iraq might never have happened." [41]

Emily Maitlis

As a former BBC editor, Luckhurst appeared on GB News in July 2021. His role was to discuss Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis' criticism regarding fallout from Dominic Cummings' controversial trip to Barnard Castle during a COVID-19 lockdown. Luckhurst alleged Maitlis' criticism of both the government and BBC were "partisan" and they potentially breached impartiality of the BBC. He summarised that he believed she should apologise and withdraw the comments. [42] [43] Maitlis later asserted the accusation originated from Government sources pressurising the BBC to force an apology and suspension. Ultimately, Ofcom determined Maitlis had not breached BBC impartiality standards and took no action. [44]

Rod Liddle

In December 2021 Luckhurst was the focus of controversy over a Christmas formal held at Durham University's South College, during which Luckhurst's friend Rod Liddle was invited to speak. Liddle's speech included remarks that "a person with an X and a Y chromosome, that has a long, dangling penis, is scientifically a man" and "colonialism is not remotely the major cause of Africa's problems, just as [...] the educational underachievement of British people of Caribbean descent or African Americans is nothing to do with institutional or structural racism", prompting accusations of transphobia and racism. Some students left in protest before Liddle began to speak and several more left during his speech. Luckhurst shouted at students who walked out before the speech, calling them "pathetic". [45] The university investigation concluded in January 2022 [46] and Luckhurst resumed all his duties as principal of the college and associate pro-vice-chancellor, [47] but for confidentiality reasons the report was unpublished. [48] The shift to calling for Luckhurst’s resignation is understood to have taken place after his wife, Dorothy, branded students "a bunch of inadequates". [48]

Editing own Wikipedia page

In May 2022, the Durham University student newspaper, Palatinate published an article "Has the South College Formal fiasco been rewritten?" Noting numerous accusations that Luckhurst had established and edited his own Wikipedia page favourably on a longstanding basis under the username Gutterbluid. It reported Gutterbluid had received a Conflict of Interest Notice from Wikipedia. The article noted Free Speech, used to defend Liddle's formal dinner speech, also ironically contrasted with repeated ongoing deletion of all controversies on Luckhurst's Wikipedia profile. Luckhurst declined to comment on the article. [49]

BBC Scotland

In July 2022, Luckhurst agreed with former BBC Scotland lawyer Alistair Bonnington's claim that the corporation was "slavishly biased in favour of the Scottish National Party (SNP) who now form the devolved Holyrood government." [50] Luckhurst told the Daily Mail that he thought the BBC was "under extreme pressure to do as the SNP wishes". He also claimed that "many of the BBC's young journalists appear to have nationalist sympathies", and called Bonnington "astute and brave [for identifying] a flaw that others have detected but chosen not to name". A BBC spokesman said "We responded comprehensively at the time to (Bonnington's) correspondence, fully rebutting the claims and standing by our journalism." [51]

Personal life

In 1989, Luckhurst married Dorothy Williamson, who stood as the Conservative Party candidate in Blaydon in the 2005 general election, having been on the Conservative A-List. [52] [53]

The couple have four children; three daughters and one son. [5] One of their daughters, Phoebe, is an author and current features editor at the Evening Standard . [54] [55]

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  6. Luckhurst, Tim (14 September 2000). "The future is bright, the future is selective" . The Independent . Archived from the original on 7 May 2022.
  7. Luckhurst, Tim (31 October 2001). "I can no longer support this sleazy, squalid and corrupt political party" . The Independent. Archived from the original on 7 May 2022.
  8. "Ex-Dewar aide joins Tories as he praises Cameron" . The Herald. 9 December 2005.
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  13. Garside, Juliette (2 June 2000). "First Woman Editor for The Scotsman". PRWeek. Retrieved 10 December 2021.
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  23. "Op-Ed: Odds are still against a Labor Party victory in the U.K." Los Angeles Times . 2 June 2017.
  24. Luckhurst, Tim (26 February 2008). "Opinion: With friends like these". The Globe and Mail.
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  37. Luckhurst, Tim C. H. (1 October 2012). "Responsibility without Power: Lord Justice Leveson's constitutional dilemma" via www.academia.edu.{{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  38. Durham University [@durham_uni] (5 July 2019). "We are delighted to announce the appointment of five new Heads of College who will join us in 2019/20. @TCHL @maggidawn @SimonForrest1 @RobLynes" (Tweet) via Twitter.
  39. Luckhurst, Tim (31 May 2006). "Director in a class of his own". The Times. Archived from the original on 13 March 2007.
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  48. 1 2 Ball, Tom (27 January 2022). "Durham University hushes up report in Rod Liddle row" . The Times.
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  52. "Electoral Calculus - 2005". 15 October 2011. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 13 April 2022.
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  54. Luckhurst, Dorothy [@luckhurstdot] (10 July 2021). "Please stock Phoebe Luckhurst's 'The Lock In'. It's very funny and clever and she is my daughter!" (Tweet). Retrieved 13 April 2022 via Twitter.
  55. "Phoebe Luckhurst". Phoebe Luckhurst. Retrieved 13 April 2022.
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