Her persistence in reporting the human cost of the degradation of England’s justice and legal aid system won the admiration of the judges and the hostility of government spin doctors, who derided Dugan as “crazy”. Reports of defendants left without lawyers, and apparently malicious withdrawal of legal aid created a picture of a cornerstone of democracy on the brink of disintegration.
Ian Hislop, the Editor of Private Eye, said: “A brilliant winner who makes us believe that the Law is an Asset. And a vital threatened one.”
Padraig Reidy, Chair of Judges, The Private Eye Paul Foot Award, said: “Once again it was a pleasure to read the many, many entries to the Paul Foot Award. All our shortlist this year have been inspirational in their determination and insight. Emily Dugan's brilliant reporting on our broken legal system exposed a litany of failure and a government apparatus designed to cover-up problems instead of addressing them."
Set up in memory of journalist Paul Foot, who died in 2004, the award honours the UK’s most brilliant, talented and determined journalists working in the fields of investigative and campaigning journalism today, says Private Eye.
This year’s judging panel, chaired by Padraig Reidy, Little Atoms, comprised Julia Langdon, Political Journalist and Broadcaster; Simon Jenkins, The Guardian; Helen Lewis, New Statesman; Francis Wheen, Private Eye; Matt Foot, criminal defence solicitor; Amol Rajan, BBC Media Editor and Amelia Gentleman, The Guardian, who won the 2018 Paul Foot Award.
The winning campaign was awarded £5,000, with the other five shortlisted campaigns each receiving £1,000.