Damien Comerford’s career in journalism and television production spans more than twenty-five years. Beginning as a reporter in the 1980s, he has been involved in a wide range of media projects and received numerous industry awards for excellence journalism, media and television production, and current affairs programming.
He was the executive producer of a primetime long-format current affairs television show in New Zealand, during which the team tracked down and confronted the French Secret Service agent who put in place the bomb that killed Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira.
In 2009, Comerford decided to turn his decades of experience with covering major news events into a book. The five stories profiled in Cover Up possessed a sense of injustice so strong, he couldn’t refrain from delving deeper, hoping to reopen the investigations and find out the truth.
Cover Up looks deeply into five major world incidents from the 20th century, how did you choose which events to look into?
It was a combination of curiosity and random happenstance. For example, I knew nothing of the death of Princess Diana but was curious to know more. I was aware that there were unsubstantiated allegations and conspiracy theories. What I wanted to do was examine the official investigation reports to see what they said and when I did, I quickly realized there many things that were seriously wrong and needed to be written about. In the case of the death of Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and the Arrow Air disaster it was pure happenstance. But my starting point has always been, what are the official reports and investigations saying? Are the findings credible? Have they reached the correct conclusions? And the answer to these last two questions, in all of the cases examined in the book, is a resounding no. The death of Pope John Paul I always fascinated me after I read David Yallop’s book. And while I think he did an excellent job I was always troubled by his inability to provide the evidence to back his theories. So again for me it was a case of collating the research, deconstructing it and seeing what could be established as fact and what issues were raised.
Do you worry that you will be a target (of any sort) after publishing this book? Is taking on such a project dangerous in any way?
A lot of my friends have asked that question. I’ve faced down danger in the past. Being on the frontline in the war in East Timor had its moments. I guess there is always inherent danger in revealing something that someone would prefer wasn’t revealed. But isn’t something I think about or dwell on. There is no point. If someone wants to have a go, there is very little I can do about it. I just hope people read my book because they need to know about these cases. What happened here isn’t right. The only debt we owe the dead is the truth and in these five cases the truth has not been told. Covering up what really happened also demonstrates a profound lack of respect for the relatives and friends of the people who lost their lives.