Honorary awards

Phillip George Knightley AM

The degree of Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) was conferred upon Phillip George Knightley AM at the Faculty of Arts graduation ceremony held at 9.30am on 8 June 2007.

Phillip George Knightley AM

The Deputy Chancellor Emeritus Professor Ann Sefton conferring the honorary degree upon Mr Knightley AM, photo, copyright Memento Photography.


Chancellor, I have the honour to present Phillip George Knightley, AM, for admission to the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa.

Phillip Knightley is a distinguished Australian journalist, author and historian.

Although born in Australia, where he began his journalistic career, he has spent much of his professional career in London, where he earned a number of awards and distinctions – including Journalist of the Year, twice – while working on the Sunday Times.

He is perhaps best-known for his book, The First Casualty, which examined the role of journalism in times of war and crisis. It is regarded as the defining treatise on the subject.

However, his reputation as an international journalist rests principally on his role as an investigative reporter. He helped reveal the thalidomide tragedy, which helped gain due compensation for victims world-wide.

He occupies a special niche in the story of the Cold War, and became an expert in intelligence matters. He interviewed and wrote a book on Kim Philby, the Soviet ‘mole’ at the heart of British intelligence.

He has also written books on Lawrence of Arabia, the Vestey dynasty, and the Profumo scandal. His other works include a history of the Sunday Times, and Australia: A Biography of a Nation.

He is the European representative on the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and patron of the CW Bean Foundation in Canberra. He was appointed a member of the Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday Honours list in June 2005, for ‘services to journalism and as an author’.

As well as being a journalist and author, he also lectures on his areas of expertise. He is currently Visiting Professor of Journalism at Lincoln University in England.

In December last year the City University, London admitted him to the degree of Doctor of Arts, honoris causa for his services to journalism.

Although he has officially retired, he is still very active, and is a regular contributor to publications in Australia and overseas.

Chancellor, I have great pleasure in presenting to you, for admission to the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, journalist and author Phillip George Knightley and I invite you to confer the degree upon him.