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Our team

Staff and volunteers

Chris Abbott is the founder and executive director of Open Briefing. Chris was previously the deputy director of the Oxford Research Group and is one of the co-founders of the sustainable security framework. He has been an honorary visiting research fellow in the Centre for Governance and International Affairs at the University of Bristol and in the School of Social and International Studies at the University of Bradford. Chris is the author of two popular books and numerous influential reports and articles on international security.

Matthew Clarke is a researcher at Open Briefing. Following a master’s degree from the University of Birmingham, with a dissertation on the development of counter-insurgency strategies in Iraq, Matthew has worked in business, politics and the European NGO community. In particular, he has specialised in human rights in the South Caucasus, sustainable economic development in Southeast Europe, and the link between statistics and political economy. Matthew is now a freelance campaigner, analyst and data scientist.

Steve Hathorn is a senior analyst at Open Briefing. He is an intelligence consultant with over 20 years’ experience in intelligence, military and law enforcement agencies, including GCHQ, Defence Intelligence Staff, National Crime Agency, United Nations and the International Criminal Court. He has worked on projects covering terrorism, war crimes, human rights abuses, transnational organised crime and threat/risk assessments. Steve has a master’s degree in international politics and security from University College London.

Scott Hickie is a senior analyst at Open Briefing. He is a lawyer, urban planner and former political adviser with a background in environmental law, natural resource governance and climate change. He has also worked in the Australian NGO sector on international trade and corporate social responsibility and in the government sector on energy security and climate change adaptation. His research focus is on urban conflict and natural resource management.

Kevjn Lim is a senior analyst at Open Briefing. He is also a doctoral researcher in the Department of Political Science at Tel Aviv University. From 2007 to 2011, he served as delegate for the International Committee of the Red Cross in the Palestinian territories, Sudan, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan, specialising in civilian protection and political and security needs analysis. A former officer in the Singapore Armed Forces, Kevjn is fluent in a number of languages, including Arabic, Hebrew, Mandarin and Persian.

Marc van Oudheusden is an analyst at Open Briefing. He is a programme manager for crisis management and a senior adviser to the Dutch government. He is also a senior adviser to NATO, advising on civil-military cooperation, civil emergency planning and multilateral crisis management. Marc’s special interest is political and security threat analysis for the Middle East. He has a master’s degree in Arabic language and Islamic culture and is a PhD candidate at Leiden University. He also serves as strategic adviser to several NGOs in Egypt.

Kirsten Winterman is a researcher at Open Briefing. She is also the project manager for development cooperation at MEDRC Water Research. Previously, Kirsten was a projects manager at Beyond Borders Scotland, where she worked extensively on the management and facilitation of training programmes in the MENA region. Kirsten holds a master’s degree in conflict resolution from the University of Bradford and a bachelor’s degree in politics from the University of Liverpool.

Dr Raphaël Zaffran is an affiliated researcher at Open Briefing. He is currently the head of customised programmes in the executive education department of the Graduate Institute, Geneva, where he is in charge of the development and implementation of training projects for public and private sector organisations and foreign governments. Raphaël holds a PhD in political science and international relations from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.


Chris Cushing is Open Briefing’s humanitarian security consultant. Chris has 25 years’ experience in leading humanitarian action, human security strategies and high-level diplomatic initiatives for international aid organisations, the Red Cross, the United Nations, governments, academia and the private sector in over 60 countries. He has directed emergency humanitarian operations in 17 wars and two disasters. Chris is a former officer in the Canadian Armed Forces and has experience with foreign intelligence agencies.

Matthew Gordon is a medical support consultant at Open Briefing. Matt served in the British Army as a Medical Support Officer until 2016. During that time, he planned and coordinated medical support to military operations, and trained and equipped teams to provide remote support in Europe and the Middle East. Since leaving the army, Matt has worked for a healthcare charity, where he has focused on stakeholder engagement, operations management and understanding and managing risk.

Peter ‘Rocky’ Hitchcock is a senior security consultant at Open Briefing. Rocky retired as a Major from the British Army in 1994 after 26 years’ service. He has subsequently worked extensively in security, health and safety and mediation, principally in East and Central Africa. He has provided security advice to a large number of NGOs, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Danish Refugee Council and the Norwegian Refugee Council, as well as to the UN and the EU across Africa.

Roger Marshall is a security consultant at Open Briefing. Roger has worked in the private security and risk sector since leaving government service in 2004. He has advised a wide range of individual, corporate and public sector clients on security measures, intelligence gathering, due diligence, fraud analysis and global travel risk. He is the managing partner at Bradburys Global Risk, where he also coordinates security and intelligence field operations and advises personnel on the ground.

Cavan Murtagh is a senior security consultant at Open Briefing. Cavan left the Royal Marines in 2013 after 23 years’ service. During 2007-08, he was responsible for civil-military cooperation at remote hostile locations in Afghanistan, and latterly in his military career he specialised as a human intelligence operator. He has considerable experience working with NGOs and corporates in fragile and conflict-affected states, including Yemen and Somalia. Cavan is also an experienced instructor, coach and mentor.

Neil Smith is an open source intelligence consultant at Open Briefing. Neil served as a police officer for 13 years, during which time he was attached to the on call firearms unit, the plain clothes vehicle crime squad, the burglary squad and the drug squad. Since leaving the police in 1996, he has worked as a full-time investigative researcher for a range of clients, including government departments, law enforcement agencies and journalists. Neil also trains investigators and journalists in the art of using the internet as an investigative tool.

Paul Weall is a senior digital forensics consultant at Open Briefing. Paul worked in digital forensics investigations for West Midlands Police for a decade until 2011, and then for over a year for the Bermuda Police Service. Since returning from Bermuda, he has run a company supplying software, training and investigations for the forensic examination of GPS devices. He has eight commendations for his digital forensics work. Prior to this, Paul spent over 20 years in research and development in the gas industry.

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Lead instructors

Tim Puffer is the founder of In Safe Hands Training, a leading pre-hospital training organisation specialising in emergency care. Tim served as a sniper team member and team medic in the RAF Regiment before providing emergency medical care in the southwest of England, where he is now based. Tim is responsible for leading a team of professional training staff at In Safe Hands and developing courses to meet the specific needs of customers in both the public and private sectors.

Richard Pyshorn is the managing director of Survival Wisdom. Richard was a force protection specialist in the UK armed forces for 30 years. During his military career, he completed 10 operational tours of duty and was the first training manager of the UK Defence Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Extraction (SERE) Training Organisation (DSTO). He now regularly deploys to support jungle expeditions in Central America and West Africa. In 2013, Richard was made a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Advisory board

Chris Cushing is an adviser to Open Briefing. Chris has 25 years’ experience in leading humanitarian action, human security strategies and high-level diplomatic initiatives for international aid organisations, the Red Cross, the United Nations, governments, academia and the private sector in over 60 countries. He has directed emergency humanitarian operations in 17 wars and two disasters. Chris is a former officer in the Canadian Armed Forces and has experience with foreign intelligence agencies.

Dr Nick Mabey is an adviser to Open Briefing. Nick is the chief executive and a founder director of E3G, an international non-profit organisation dedicated to accelerating the transition to sustainable development. In addition to his management role, Nick leads E3G’s work on climate security and European climate change policy. Nick was previously a senior adviser in the UK Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit and, before joining government, head of economics and development at WWF-UK.

Professor Paul Rogers is an adviser to Open Briefing. Paul is professor of peace studies at the University of Bradford and global security consultant to Oxford Research Group. He has worked in the field of international security, arms control and political violence for over 30 years. He is the international security editor of openDemocracy, and has written or edited 26 books. Paul is also a regular commentator on global security issues in the national and international media.

Dr John Sloboda is an adviser to Open Briefing. John is the co-director of Every Casualty and a co-founder of Iraq Body Count. From 2004 to 2009, he was the executive director of the Oxford Research Group, and from 2009 to 2014 he was co-director of their Every Casualty programme. He is also a research professor at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Keele. In July 2004, John was elected to the Fellowship of the British Academy.