About Matt Potter


Matt Potter, journalist and author of Outlaws Inc

Image: © MattPotter.

Matt Potter is a British journalist, author, editor, broadcaster and scriptwriter.


He has reported for BBC Radio from Eastern Europe, Afghanistan and Southeast Asia, co-presented Radio 1’s award-winning global travel shows, and presented and carried out investigations for the Discovery channel and Channel 4. He’s published three books – two for the BBC, and Outlaws Inc., his latest, in 26 countries and a handful of languages. A W.H. Smith Bestseller, Outlaws Inc is now in development as a Hollywood movie. Matt is also one of the team behind feature documentary The Notorious Mr Bout, on the life and times of arms smuggler Viktor Bout. The film premiered at Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival in January 2014, and is scheduled to lead the BBC’s Storyville documentary season in 2015. A fourth book, F*** You & Goodbye, is out worldwide in autumn 2014, published by Constable & Robinson.


As a journalist in Belgrade, he broke the story of the NATO ‘spy’ giving away secrets to Serb forces on the web, and was taken in for questioning by MI5 as a result. His nose for the unusual has seen his writing appear in places as diverse as the Daily Telegraph, The Evening Standard, London Lite, Sabotage Times, Golf Monthly, Esquire, Sunday Telegraph, Jack, Maxim, the Irish Examiner, and Hot Air, and he’s been called on for on-air expertise and opinion by the BBC, CNN, Fox (I know, sorry), ARD and more. His reports on cocaine trafficking in Latin America have been published in Russian, German and English.


His first internationally published book, Outlaws Inc draws on his first-hand experience of the biggest, most secretive smuggling and trafficking network in history – all the way from the collapse of the Soviet Union, through the last, gun-running, money-laundering days of Slobodan Milosevic’s mafia-held Serbia, through Afghanistan and the contraband-thick waters of South America’s ‘Cocaine Coast’. A piece of non-fiction investigative work, the story it tells is also an alternate history of the times we live in. Outlaws Inc available now in the UK and Commonwealth and the US as well as in German, Italian and Finnish editions.


Throughout winter 2012 and spring 2013, Outlaws Inc was the condensed non-fiction read of the season in Reader’s Digest worldwide, translated into dozens of languages from Cantonese and Bahasa Malaysia to Slovenian and Spanish.


His work on Outlaws Inc informed his next project, the documentary feature The Notorious Mr Bout – a study produced by Maxim Pozdorovkin and directed by Tony Gerber, in which Matt and a handful of international arms sleuths retrace their steps on the hunt for the Merchant of Death’, Russian weapons dealer Viktor Bout. The film won a prize on its premier at Sundance 2014, and opened in cinemas across the world through the spring and summer of 2014 – with Matt touring and addressing audiences at festivals and premieres. The film was given its TV premiere in the autumn as part of the BBC’s Storyville season.


His second major book, F**k You & Goodbye: The Dark & Hilarious History of the Resignation, was published by Little, Brown in November 2014, and was serialized in The Independent and The Telegraph, as well as being named The Week‘s ‘Recommended Christmas Read’ and breaking into Waterstone’s bestsellers list.


Matt speaks a handful of languages to wildly differing degrees, but attempts to speak at least 20 more. He currently lives in Britain, but enjoys driving around Eastern Europe, has a lifelong love of Baltic, Slavic and Central Asian cultures, and likes the Afghan food, culture and people so much he’d move to Kabul full-time if only the house and contents insurance wasn’t so expensive.


He’s also a creative consultant and digital/social media lead creative, and currently works as Head of Content for one of the world’s largest content agencies, based in London. You can contact him on Twitter @MattPotter, through LinkedIn, or via this website.


12 thoughts on “About Matt Potter

  1. Great book, I just read it when I was at work offshore Angola.
    Due to problems to get correct visa for working there we do crew changes via Congo with a vessel. Then we only need a seaman book and no need to apply for visa in advance. Last winter (guess march 2011) we got the message that the airport in Point Noire was closed due to a cargo plane had crashed on approach to the airport. After what we heard they crashed in a village. They opened the airport right after so we were not affected. So when I read your book now, I thought maybe it could be a similar operation as you describe.

    Best regards


  2. Matt writes: Hey, thanks for the comment – really glad you liked the book. Point Noire is legendary for these guys. Going by the date, my guess is that this was the crash you heard about, an old Antonov 12 flying under the colours of Trans Air Congo (an outfit banned in the EU, incidentally). There’s a news report on exactly what happened from Australian TV there too. Cheers!

  3. Just read Murder Inc. Brilliant book that acts both as a action adventure and a “eye opener ” to the ways of the world. How so much is interrelated whether it’s being done of good or “evil”.
    Will be reading some of the books in the glossary especially the Merchant of Death and others
    Thanks for a great read and lets hope for more books like this

  4. Hi Matt, just finished your book “Outlaws Inc” and have to say that although I mainly read novels you had me totally engrossed from the first page right through to the last. Here’s one person who hopes to see more of your work.



  5. I have just finished reading you book Outlaws Inc and it was probably the best book that i have ever read and thrust me and believe me i have read a quite a few in my life . The most interesting part in the book i thought was when Viktor Bout was arrested in Bangkok i just could not take my eyes off the book when i was reading that part of it

  6. I was a military multinational Kabul airport ISAF firefighter for 6 months during years 2004 and 2005. After reading Outlaws Inc. I wan tell, I saw amazing things connected with ex soviet planes and their crews. At Kabul airport during the night ISAF soldiers could not see, if parked planes took in or out smulggled stuff. I saw three ex-soviet plane accidents, 2 of them were crash landings. Once a An-12 landed without landing gears/tyres. Even the plane was in a horrible condition after a crash landing, they flied back to Dubai next day (engines 1 and 4 were damaged, as well as the metal bottom of the whole plane). A crash landing of An-12 cargo plane happened, because the pilot was reckless and not so talented (normally the ex-soviet pilots were the most talented in extreme conditions, but not this guy) . The crew managed to jump out from the An-12 cockpit windows 10 seconds before a backdraft fire destroyed the cabin inside. Third time IL-76 denayed to Flight Control, that thty would have any problem and they asked permission to try landing 2nd time in a foggy weather. Flight control send our fire engine to check out, what was laying in the middle of a field surrounding the airport. There was 8 tyres and other parts of the gears. IL-76 had tried to land in the middle of fog and they had hit an old russian outpost before a emergency take-off. After this information flight control denyed permission to land and IL-76 had to make a crash landing to Bagram airport (US military base 80 km´s away). The crew survived and something illegal was found out from the cargo, due to NATO reports.

  7. I just heard your interview on CBC radio Toronto Canada moments ago. What a sharp and brilliant perspective you have on the workplace, resignation and history.
    Fascinating interview!

  8. Thanks so much for the feedback Shawn – really chuffed to bits that you enjoyed the interview! Anna Maria Tremonti is such an engaging host, she could probably get a postbox sharing funny stories, so I had the easy part!

  9. I just heard you on the CBC as well. I was expecting something irreverent and fun (as in the glorious sixpack slide out an airplane) but heard something that was also insightful and even poignant. Great interview and looking forward to a good read as well.

  10. That’s such a rush to hear – thank you! Hope you like the book – you’ve captured exactly what I think is special about the whole subject of resigning right there. Cheers!

  11. Dear Matt, Hello.
    First of all, I would like to say ‘Thank You’ very much for your Outlaws Inc. Its a very impressive research and very interesting reading. I am looking forward to find more of your publications.
    However, regarding to your book in question. You wrote about IL-76 covering a relatively long period of time of modern Russian military aviation history – 80’s-90s and so on, in association with different locations, but you never mentioned anything about Кречевицы Krechevits, which is an air base located 11 km northeast of Veliky Novgorod. Any particular reason?
    Best of Luck
    Kind regards
    Tanya Tovey

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