Christopher Booker is a journalist and author, one of the founders of Private Eye magazine (along with Richard Ingrams and Willie Rushton in 1961) and a regular contributor. He has also had a regular column in the Sunday Telegraph and is outspoken on a number of scientific subject, including the link between passive smoking and cancer, global warming and the dangers posed by asbestos.
He read history at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and was the first jazz critic for the Daily and Sunday Telegraphs. Booker was also the resident political scriptwriter on the BBC’s popular satirical programme, That Was the Week that Was. He was ousted from Private Eye by Ingrams in 1963, but returned two years later and has remained a collaborative member of the magazine’s joke writing team ever since with Ingrams, Barry Fantoni and Ian Hislop.
In the 1970’s Christopher Booker campaigned against the construction of tower blocks and the redevelopment of cities in the UK in the style of the modern movement which lead to the IPC Campaigning Journalist of the Year Award in 1973. The 1980’s saw Booker taking part in an investigation of charges that senior UK politicians, including Harold Macmillan, were guilty of serious war crimes when they handed over thousands of Yugoslavian and Cossack prisoners to the Communists at the end of World War 2.
Booker’s weekly Telegraph columns have covered a wide variety of topics of public interest and he’s been described as doing “the kind of proper, old-school things that journalists hardly ever bother with . . . . He digs, he makes the calls, he reads the small print, he takes up the cause of the little man and campaigns, he speaks truth to power without fear or favour”. In his columns (and in his popular book, Scared to Death) he puts forward the theory that asbestos, passive smoking and BSE have not been shown to be dangerous with views that are contrary to scientific opinion. This has resulted in criticism from public bodies and other journalists and his articles on asbestos have been repeatedly challenged by George Monbiot of The Guardian. The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have also refuted his claims on asbestos.
The claims on asbestos are that white asbestos is “chemically identical to talcum powder” and that the risk posed to human health is nonexistent. In response to these claims, HSE Director General Timothy Walker stated that Booker’s articles on asbestos had been “misinformed and do little to increase public understanding of a very important occupational health issue”. Booker’s claims have also been critically analysed by Richard Wilson in the book Don’t Get Fooled Again (2008).
Booker is also a prominent climate sceptic and has attacked the BBC for its coverage of global warming issues. He believes that the Met Office has been hi-jacked and turned into a major global propaganda engine encouraging a belief in manmade global warming. His views on asbestos, global warming, passive smoking and other controversial subjects make Christopher Booker one of the most derided journalists of our age.