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November 8, 2021updated 30 Sep 2022 10:44am

How UK media has exposed Boris government sleaze and incompetence

By Dominic Ponsford

As Boris Johnson’s government, and Parliament itself, are engulfed in yet more sleaze scandals it is worth noting how many entries in this year’s British Journalism Awards involved exposing allegations of corruption and incompetence.

Yesterday The Sunday Times and Open Democracy revealed that wealthy benefactors to the Tory Party “appear to be guaranteed a peerage if they take on the temporary role as party treasurer and increase their own donations beyond £3m”.

This follows the government’s U-turn last week on changes to the standards rules passed by parliament to save Owen Peterson MP from a suspension. It has since emerged that 22 Conservative MPs who voted against the overhaul had themselves been investigated by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.

Press Gazette revealed the finalists for the British Journalism Awards on Thursday.

No fewer than four of the eight nominations for the prestigious Scoop of the Year prize this year focused on allegations of UK government corruption, sleaze and incompetence.

They were:

I can’t recall another time in the ten-year history of this event when a sitting government has generated so many award-nominated scoops as a result of its own conduct.

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The other shortlists are also peppered with work which holds Parliament and the current government to account.

Other nominated entries include:

Insider: Conservative MP Karl McCartney under investigation by Parliament’s sleaze watchdog for hiding links to family firm

The BMJ: Operation Moonshot: Leaked documents prompt questions over cost, evidence, and reliance on private sector

The BMJ: Conflicts of interest among the UK government’s covid-19 advisers

And The Sunday Times; David Cameron’s multiple texts to Rishi Sunak to bail out Greensill  |  David Cameron, Jeremy Heywood, Lex Greensill and all that ‘free money’

As ever the British Journalism Awards are a reminder of the vital watchdog role played by the UK news industry and how it holds the government to account. Not all countries are lucky enough to have such a vibrant, independent and questioning media.

The Sun and Daily Mail are hated by many left-wingers. But for all the criticisms of the corporate billionaire-owned media it is worth noting that Lord Rothermere and Rupert Murdoch’s titles have often been at the forefront of exposing the shortcomings of the current Tory run government.

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