Buzzfeed’s Emily Dugan has won the Private Eye Paul Foot Award for her Access to Justice campaign exposing failings in the UK’s legal system.
Her series of reports included cases where people were left without lawyers and where Government officials appeared to have influenced decisions to deny legal aid in high-profile cases.
During the course of her investigations Dugan was called “crazy” and a “bitch” in emails between Ministry of Justice staff after publishing a leaked report they claimed did not exist.
Judges said Dugan’s reports “created a picture of a cornerstone of democracy on the brink of disintegration”. She wins £5,000 while the other five shortlisted investigations each get £1,000.
Private Eye editor Ian Hislop said of Dugan: “A brilliant winner who makes us believe that the law is an asset. And a vital threatened one.”
Padraig Reidy, chairman of the judges said entries on this year’s shortlist for the award, set up in memory of investigative journalist Paul Foot who died in 2004, were “inspirational in their determination and insight”.
He added: “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.”
This year’s judging panel comprised political journalist Julia Langdon, The Guardian’s Simon Jenkins, the New Statesman’s Helen Lewis, Private Eye’s Francis Wheen, criminal defence solicitor Matt Foot, BBC Media editor Amol Rajan, and The Guardian’s Amelia Gentleman, last year’s award winner.
Picture: Private Eye