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Paul Foot Award – shortlist announced

Private Eye has published the shortlist for the 2019 Paul Foot Award, selected from the best submissions from digital media, national and regional publications.

Paul Foot Award – shortlist announced
Photograph: Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

This year’s shortlist shines a light on the stories that investigative and campaigning journalists have doggedly exposed, despite the seeming domination of Brexit on the media agenda.

Ian Hislop, Editor, Private Eye, said: “This is a brilliant list. The Judges deserve a pay rise, unlike er...”.

The shortlist:

Ian Birrell, The Mail On Sunday

Autistic Youngsters Locked Up

Ian Birrell told the devastating stories of young people with autism and learning difficulties held in wholly unsuitable psychiatric facilities for years on end. Judges praised Birrell’s reporting as a scandal that saw society’s most vulnerable people abused and exploited while multi-million pound corporations profited.

Richard Brooks, Private Eye

Conservative Party Treasurer Investigation

Brooks’ investigation of Ehud Sheleg, the Conservative Party Treasurer and director of the Halcyon art gallery revealed a Byzantine and outlandish world of bizarre art deals, unpaid bills, dodgy Russian connections, and dodgy dealings all the way to Buckingham palace. Judges praised Brooks’ deep dive into the unknown but influential figure’s complicated financial arrangements.

Phil Coleman, News & Star (Cumbria)

Fake Shrink

Phil Coleman told the strange story of fake NHS psychiatrist Zholia Alemi, who had deceived patients as well as national and local health services for decades. Alemi, who had no qualification in psychiatry, practiced for decades and even had a recruitment contract with her local NHS trust. Coleman’s reporting exposed a lifetime of deceit.

Emily Dugan, Buzzfeed UK

Access To Justice

Emily Dugan’s 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.

Tom Kelly, Daily Mail

Fleeced by the Fake Tax Men

Tom Kelly sought out the fraudsters terrifying innocent people in the UK with fake tax payment demands. The Daily Mail’s investigation spoke to people who had paid thousands into fake HMRC accounts after intimidating phonecalls demanding payment, and tracked the perpetrators all the way to Ahmedabad in India.

Claire Newell and the Daily Telegraph investigations team

MeToo Businessman scandal

The Daily Telegraph’s investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against Sir Philip Green ignited a national outcry about the use of non-disclosure agreements to silence whistle-blowers in the workplace, with 250,000 subsequently signing a petition demanding an end to NDAs used to hide abuse and illegality.

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.

Padraig Reidy, Chair of Judges, The Private Eye Paul Foot Award, said: “With more entries than ever, selecting this year’s Paul Foot Awards shortlist was a serious challenge. The judges were delighted to reaffirm that whatever else is going on in the country, British journalism and journalists are in excellent health."

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.

The winning entry for 2019 will be awarded £5,000 at an evening awards ceremony, Tuesday 18 June, at BAFTA, London.