Notorious : Life with no parole for a crime I did not commit

Notorious : Life with no parole for a crime I did not commit

Raphael Rowe

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As the first person of mixed race with dreadlocks to be a reporter for the British Broadcasting Corporation, on both television and radio (Today Programme, Six O'clock News, Panorama and The One Show) I helped re-write the rules on what makes an international BBC correspondent. I am an experienced undercover and investigative journalist and presenter on both prime-time television and international platforms such as Netflix. Yet it is being an inspiration to an under-served and diverse audience across the globe that inspires me.

I broke the mold on what an international reporter looks like, sounds like and has as a background; I am proud of the fact that in doing so I inspire others. Less than a year later I began a new career as a journalist and broadcast reporter for the BBC, starting at the Today programme, the pinnacle of BBC Radio 4. I had a voice, and I was lucky enough to be allowed to use it.

There were many other reporters, but none were ex prisoners, non had dreadlocks and non were mixed race. From this most prestigious and influential show I moved to television reporting in 2003 for BBC1's The Six O'Clock News. This is the pinnacle of prime-time television, and here I was, dreadlocks and mixed race, with a long stretch of my life lost to incarceration and fighting to prove my innocence.

Not exactly the stereotypical BBC reporter! However, it was precisely this that propelled my career even further and between 2004 and 2006 I made hard hitting documentaries for BBC2 and BBC3, covering issues such as serial killers, knife crime, drugs, corrupt UN peacekeepers, enviromental crime and terrorism. One of my investigations played a pivotal part in freeing a man convicted of the assasination of a high profile BBC celebrity. The BBC recognised that I have tenacity, courage and the life experience that most investigative journalists can only read about, and I became a correspondent for the prestigious Panorama show.

This is World's longest running current affairs TV series and once again I was the first ex-prisoner and person of colour, with dreadlocks, to have achieved such a position. This was a far cry from those years in prison cells, fighting to prove I did not commit the crimes of which I was accused. I was now able to use that experience and the skills it taught me of patience and perseverance to become a recognised household name.

My work has taken me to some of the world's most dangerous places, but I thrive on it. At times I had to operate undercover to expose injustice and crime. I smuggled conflict diamonds to show how the system was corrupted, secretly filmed Congolese militia rebels to expose their ruthless tactics and threw light on the illegal international logging and deforestation of some of the World's most precious resources.

In undertaking that particular assignment I risked my own life to save the life of an orangutan and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I currently host Inside the World's Toughest Prisons on Netflix. Even with my experiences of life inside behind me, and my position as a free and innocent man confirmed, it has been one hell of a discovery.

People ask me why go back into maximum security prisons, as an innocent man, after fighting for so many years to get out?"I am scarred by my life experience but I have not allowed it to hold me back."