This series of blog posts will go behind-the-scenes of some of my favourite portfolio pieces, revisiting the challenges and solutions. 

INTRO: It’s an oldie but definitely one of my favourites. I gave this a refresh a few years back as it was looking a little tired.

BACKGROUND: In 2011 the Guardian newspaper released a story about then-Defence Minister Liam Fox. Specifically it questioned the access his friend Adam Werritty was getting to defence meetings across the world whilst claiming to be Fox’s adviser. The investigation uncovered a series of unsanctioned meetings involving Werritty and Fox subsequently resigned.

BRIEF: This was a personal project. I had just handed in my Masters in Online Journalism final project and used this as a practice piece of data journalism.

THE DATA: The Guardian data blog published an MOD list of all the meetings between Adam Werritty and Liam Fox. That list is still online and available here


  • Clean the data: I wanted to create a simple yet effective visualisation, so for the purposes of this I simplified the data by removing the US states named, and merging them into USA.
  • Create the map: I imported the dataset into Tableau and generated a simple circle map – the larger the circle, the more days Werritty spent there. This was quick and effective. I then ‘printed’ the map as a PDF, and imported this into Illustrator, where I could tinker with it further.
  • Create the timeline:  Similarly, I use the data in Tableau to create a timeline with a coloured square foe each date – the colour decided by the country Werritty was in. Again, I ‘printed’ as a PDF and imported into Illustrator.
  • Create the final image: Once in Illustrator I could begin to connect the map to the timeline with a series of lines. I added the county names, the dates and a darker map to add to the visual appeal.