David Bergman is the son of Alan Bergman, a dentist from Hadley Wood, in north London. He holds degrees in both politics and law and his law degree is from the University of Birmingham.
Bergman is married to Bangladeshi lawyer and writer Sara Hossain, who is the co-editor of 'Honor': Crimes, Paradigms and Violence Against Women. His father-in-law is Dr. Kamal Hossain, who has been the president of the Gano Forum political party in Bangladesh since he founded it in 1992.
David Bergman is an investigative journalist and previously worked for the UK's Twenty Twenty. He has formerly worked at several Bangladeshi newspapers, including Dhaka Tribune, The Daily Star, Bdnews24.com, and New Age. In addition to writing for Bangladeshi papers, Bergman has contributed to Foreign Policy and The Economist. His coverage of the International War Crimes Tribunal appeared in The Independent newspaper.
Between 1999 and 2009, Bergman headed the human rights organisation Centre for Corporate Accountability and advocated for legal reforms on work-related deaths.
Gita Sahgal, who later produced War Crimes File, said she first met Bergman when he was politically active in the relief work after the Bhopal disaster in India. Bergman first traveled from Birmingham, England, to Bhopal in March 1986 by bicycle as a charity to raise ₤5,000 for the victims of the disaster. While there, he became entangled in a legal dispute over the government's role in relief that The Guardian later dubbed "The Bergman Affair". Other organizations providing relief to the victims of the Bhopal disaster said they were harassed or prevented from being effective because of government intervention.
In September 1986, when Bergman was 21 years old, he was held in custody in violation of India's Foreigners Act and National Security Act and was accused of working for Union Carbide. Around the time of his detention, Bergman was on a hunger strike and also suffering from hepatitis, and although he requested the court allow him to travel for treatment his request was denied, as was his father's intervention on behalf of his son's health. He denied the charges as a form of harassment and challenged the lower courts decision. His case was heard before the Supreme Court, and the high court decided in his favour and also allowed for his continued stay in India to take part in the relief efforts. Later, the Supreme Court intervened again and forced the lower court to dismiss the charges. Bergman later spoke to the media for the Bhopal Action Group, London, and argued against the sabotage theory advocated by Union Carbide and in favour of design flaws as the cause. He also published an article in a law journal about these competing views.
Bergman was affiliated with the Centre for Corporate Accountability as its executive director for nine years before stepping down in 2009 when the it closed. While at this organization, Bergman worked on legal issues related to workers' safety issues and the Centre supported the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007. The law went into effect in 2008 and allows corporations to be charged with manslaughter that occurs inside the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom, including multinationals.
Bergman was the reporter and researcher behind the 1995 documentary film War Crimes File that was aired on British TV Channel 4 about the 1971 Bangladesh atrocities. The film was produced by Gita Sahgal, director of this film was Howard Bradburn, made with the assistance of Bangladeshi filmmaker Tareque Masud, and created for Twenty Twenty. The program received a special commendation in the "Best International Current Affairs Award" category from the Royal Television Society in 1995, which was for its "courageous exposé of Islamic extremists now living in Britain". The film was subjected to a libel charge by the men featured in the film.
Bergman also maintains a blog that follows the proceedings of the International Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh.
Bergman published a controversial opinion article, "A crucial period for International Crimes Tribunal", in New Age on 2 October 2011 that was seen as contempt by Justice Md Nizamul Huq, Justice ATM Fazle Kabir and AKM Zahir Ahmed, although the body exonerated Bergman and his publisher, it warned them to be more careful. In December 2012, Justice Nizamul Huq resigned when Skype recorded emails between the justice and Ahmed Ziauddin that compromised the fairness of the tribunal were revealed on YouTube and in publications such as The Economist and Amar Desh. Elsewhere in the media, Bergman has criticised the due process procedures of the International Crimes Tribunal as flawed. He has been critical of the tribunal's due process and principles in following rule of law. Bangladesh's tribunal raised a further contempt charge against Bergman in April 2014 concerning three articles he had published on his blog about the court. At issue is his writings about how many people died during the Bangladesh Liberation War with the court using the official figure of three million and Bergman saying that number is disputed by evidence. He was convicted by that court at the end of 2014, where it was proclaimed that he "hurt the feelings of the nation."Bergman, David. "The sabotage theory and the legal strategy of Union Carbide," New Law Journal, 138, 17 June 1988.
Bergman, David. (Director) "War Crimes Files" (documentary), Dispatches (program), Channel 4. 1995.
—— (2 October 2011). "A crucial period for International Crimes Tribunal". New Age. Dhaka. Archived from the original on 21 October 2013.
—— (15 February 2013). "My response to Tahmina Anam’s article on 'Shahbag', 1971 war crimes trials in Bangladesh, and demands for hangings". Bangladesh Chronicle. Archived from the original on 7 February 2015.
—— (16 May 2013). "Witness alleges state abduction". New Age. Dhaka. Archived from the original on 30 January 2014.
—— (17 April 2014). "Questioning an Iconic Number". The Hindu.