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Dom Phillips, 1964-2022

TOM HENNIGAN, a contributor to the Irish Times based in South America, remembered London Freelance Branch member Dom Phillips at the July Branch meeting. Dom was murdered in July while researching a book in the Brazilian Amazon, alongside Bruno Pereira, a former official with the Indian Affairs department.

Dom Phillips

Dom Phillips (centre) with other journalists at a breakfast with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (left) on 19 July 2022

Dom was, Tom said, “the hardest-working freelance in Brazil.” He started reporting from the country in 2008 and “made a huge success of it”. He worked for many of the best English-language papers, and for some leading Brazilian publications that quickly recognised that his was “a sophisticated gringo eye” on their country.

Before arriving in Brazil, Dom’s career in the UK was a music journalist, on Mixmag – “during the 1990s when that scene was at its height”. “Some think of Dom as an activist,” Tom noted: “He wasn’t. He was a journalist – starting from when he founded music fanzines in Liverpool in the 80s.” Bruno Pereira, meanwhile, had been “a fearless official in Indian Affairs – and was keen to explain to journalists such as Don the power structures behind the destruction of the rainforest. Their relationship was close because it was forged over week-long trips into the remotest corners of the rainforest.”

Tim Dawson proposed a Branch policy motion that “pledges to support efforts to create a suitable memorial to Dom Phillips”. He was aware that Dom’s friends and family are trying to publish the book that he was working on. A crowdfunder has brought in significant sums for immediate needs. The motion was passed: when we have more details we’ll come back.