Blog | Jan. 30, 2018

McMafia: our event in Parliament to explore the truth behind the drama

It was a full house for our event in Parliament yesterday to discuss the real-life issues behind the hit BBC drama, McMafia. We were delighted to be joined by the show's creators Hoss Amini and James Watkins, star James Norton and Misha Glenny, the author of the book on which the series is based, for a debate chaired by the Guardian's political editor Anushka Asthana.

McMafia parliamentary event: James Norton and Ellie Nichol

James Norton, star of McMafia, and our Deputy Campaign Director Eleanor Nichol, on the panel at our parliamentary event. Photo: Simon Rawles/Global Witness 

Co-hosting the event was the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Anti-Corruption and the government's anti-corruption champion John Penrose gave the keynote speech to an audience of journalists, MPs and partner organisations. You can see how the discussion unfolded below.

Shining a light on the role of UK property

McMafia parliamentary event: James Norton w/Gillian and Founders

James Norton and Misha Glenny with the CEO and co-founders of Global Witness at our parliamentary event. Photo: Simon Rawles/Global Witness 

We used the event to highlight how London is being turned into a luxury bolthole for the sorts of corrupt officials and criminals we see in the drama. Anonymous companies allow shady characters to buy up London properties, while hiding their true identities. And Westminster - where our event was held - is the borough with the highest number of these secretly-owned properties. 

We also launched a new tool that allows Londoners to look up numbers of secretly-owned properties by postcode - and tweet the figure to their Member of Parliament.

The ability to hide and spend corrupt funds provided by these luxury boltholes makes corruption possible, and worse, it makes it attractive. But, this corruption keeps poor countries poor, de-stabilises democracies, and enables human rights abuses.

Be sure to catch up with McMafia on the BBC Iplayer now, or when it comes to screens in the US and globally in February. 


  • Eleanor Nichol

    Campaign Leader, Governments and Corruption

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