CSI’s real-life fighter against cyber crime

Professor Mary Aiken is the cyber crime expert whose cases form the basis of CSI Cyber storylines from identity theft to phishing and on-line harassment. She is also the inspiration for the show’s lead investigator FBI Special Agent Avery Ryan (Patricia Arquette). Prof Aiken is director of the Cyber-Psychology Research Centre at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, the world’s first dedicated unit exploring a technological parallel of virtual criminality, where I went to meet her for The Daily TelegraphView article

Return of the slave trade

Human trafficking is a $3 billion a year business in Europe. I went to interview Ariana in Amsterdam. Born in Albania she was 16 when she was lured by her Albanian boyfriend to Italy with promises of work and marriage only to be forced into prostitution. He took her passport and her life became a nightmare of sex with strangers by night and daily beatings from her boyfriend/pimp. He then moved her to London to work in a brothel in Earls Court.  Ariana is one of the lucky ones. She escaped and now lives in The Netherlands where she helps counsel others who have been trafficked and exploited. This piece appeared in editions of Reader’s Digest right across Europe where it is estimated that 250,000 people a year are ensnared by traffickers and enslaved as domestic, agricultural, construction and sex workers. View article    

Number One Ladies Detective Agency


The opulent bar at the five-star Dorchester Hotel on London’s Park Lane is the location for a romantic date for a Fulham GP in his late 50s and his 27-year-old companion. As they enjoy their cocktails, intimate in each other’s company they are oblivious to another couple sitting at a nearby table. They certainly have not noticed that the female has placed her handbag on the table let alone imagined that it hides an HD camera that is recording every second they are together. The eavesdroppers are from D-Tec, Britain’s only private detective agency founded and run by women. View article   

Hunting the Cocaine Crooks

Rotterdam is Europe’s largest port and a major gateway for the import of cocaine from South America into Europe. This case fans out from a conspirators’ café in the Dutch port to the UK and to Spain where police use the latest technology to beam the faces of Britain’s most wanted criminals on to the beaches and tourist mobiles. You can run but you can’t hide, as these conspirators found out. View article 

Brought to justice

I went to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague to write this story for European editions of Reader’s Digest about Ivo Atlija who witnessed a mass murder in his village in north-western Bosnia-Herzegovina when 68 Croats were gunned down including 14 women and four invalids. Ten years later Ivo came to the court in The Hague to give evidence against Bosnian Serb doctor Milomir Stakić. He was sentenced to 40 years for ordering the massacre in Ivo’s village of Brisevo which was also razed to the ground. In the court these killers look so chillingly ordinary. I sat in on the trial of former Bosnia Serb leader Radovan Karadžić, accused of war crimes and genocide including the massacre of Srebrenica. As the evidence unfolded he had the manner of a bemused geography teacher. View article

The Silent Witness

This is the perfect symmetrical crime story. The victim, Dr Helena Greenwood, a brilliant DNA scientist, is murdered in California but there is not enough evidence to convict her killer. 15 years later, advances in the techniques she pioneered are used by a determined cold case detective to track down the murderer who is then prosecuted by a brilliant attorney. It is unusual, and refreshing, to find a case where the three main characters are all female. The detective and the lawyer are also in a race against time; to secure a verdict before Helena’s terminally ill father dies. View article