Guardian investigations editor, David Leigh, and a team from BBC Newsnight have jointly won the Daniel Pearl Award for Outstanding International Investigative Reporting for exposing how oil firm Trafigura dumped toxic waste in the Ivory Coast.
The prize rewarded a unique collaborative series by four European news outlets as Kjersti Knudsson and Synnove Bakke, from the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, and Jeroen Trommelen, of Dutch paper de Volkskrant, were also recognised.
Trafigura and its law firm Carter-Ruck caused public outcry in October when it emerged they had unsuccessfully attempted to use a wide-ranging gagging order to prevent The Guardian reporting a Parliamentary question relating to the oil firm.
The BBC was then forced to apologise to Trafigura and pay it £25,000 damages, in December, over one aspect of Meirion Jones and Liz MacKean’s report.
Despite the payout the BBC remained defiant, saying it had: ‘played a leading role in bringing to the public’s attention the actions of Trafigura in the illegal dumping of 500 tons of hazardous waste.”
Presenting the award at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Geneva, judges praised ‘Toxic Waste Dump’for exposing how a powerful oil trader tried to cover up the poisoning of 30,000 West Africans.
In the US category, the prize was awarded to weekly magazine The Nation for its investigations into how Pentagon military contractors in Afghanistan routinely pay millions of dollars in protection money to the Taliban
The Global Shining Light Award was presented to a team from Eastern Europe for their investigation on the corruption within the Moldovan regime.
The investigation, supported by the Danish agency Scoop, went to Vitalie Calugarearenu, Vlad Lavrov, Stefen Candea, Dumitru Lazur and Irina Codrean.
A special award was also made to Stephen Engelberg, from ProPublica, for a series of articles on returning US soldiers seeking Government medical support.
The Pearl prize, formerly called the ICIJ Award, was renamed in honour of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was killed by Pakistani militants in 2002.
The awards, which were created specifically to honour cross-border investigative reporting, gave each set of winners $5,000.