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May 31, 2017

Global Witness, Architects Journal and Archant among finalists for 2017 Paul Foot Award

By Dominic Ponsford

Anti corruption group Global Witness, Architects Journal and journalists from regional press publisher Archant are among those vying for this year’s Paul Foot Award.

The annual prize for campaigning and investigative journalism was revived by Private Eye this year after being last awarded in March 2015.

It was launched in 2004 to commemorate the late Private Eye and Daily Mirror journalist.

The winner will receive a prize of £5,000.

The full shortlist, with citations:

Daniel Balint-Kurti & Leigh Baldwin, Global Witness, The Deceivers:

Global Witness’s investigation took its reporters from London to Liberia on the trail of former England cricketer Phil Edmonds and his business partner Andrew Groves. Global Witness exposed an extraordinary and disturbing tale of questionable fortunes made in London’s lightly regulated Alternative Investment Market. Conducting dozens of interviews and carefully verifying source material, Global Witness produced a gripping report, filled with fascinating detail and accessible explanations of complex markets, bringing convoluted and shady practices into the light.

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Katherine Faulkner, Daily Mail, How Royal Mail helps conmen defraud the elderly:

This undercover investigation identified the industrial scale on which postal frauds against the elderly in Britain were being carried out. The investigation revealed a trade in the contact details of vulnerable people, who could then be targeted via fraudulent mail shots being routinely delivered in bulk under Royal Mail’s lucrative mass-mail contracts. The campaign saw Katherine Faulkner go undercover at a data-sales conference for scammers, interview victims and spend nearly a year tracing back the frauds to overseas post boxes. Royal Mail subsequently announced moves to ban the distribution of letters it suspected of being part of scamming schemes.

Will Hurst, The Architects’ Journal, the Garden Bridge investigation:

This investigation into the controversy of the taxpayer-funded Garden Bridge over the Thames focused mainly on the architectural contest. Under freedom of information rules, Will Hurst obtained incriminating correspondence concerning the procurement exercise and conflicts of interest, and reported on procedural flaws. Hurst’s in-depth research relied on sources in City Hall as well as FoI, and his investigation led to his appearance as an expert witness at the London Assembly, as well as giving evidence in person to Dame Margaret Hodge MP as part of her official mayoral inquiry.

Billy Kenber, The Times, Drug company profiteering:

Billy Kenber revealed that drug companies were imposing astonishing price hikes for vital medicines bought by the NHS. The Times reported how a small group of companies exploited a legal loophole in NHS rules to impose extortionate increases in the selling price of more than 50 drugs at considerable cost to taxpayers. Kenber spent months analysing and cross-referencing hundreds of datasets, including marketing authorisations, prescription figures, tariff prices and an NHS drug database, as well as cultivating industry sources. The campaign led to the introduction of new legislation to close the loophole, which has now passed into law, as well as a competition watchdog inquiry.

Maeve McClenaghan & Crina Boros, Energydesk, Big fish barons squeeze out small-scale fishermen:

This four-month investigation into fishing quota ownership tracked back the owners of more than 800 commercial fishing licences. Using a combination of record-checking and freedom of information requests, the Energydesk team found that just three companies own two-thirds of the entire fishing quota for England and Wales. Speaking to fishermen all over the country, they discovered an unreported trade in fishing quotas, and the remarkable story of a single fibreglass boat which held almost a fifth of the south-west of England’s fishing quota.

Daniel Taylor, The Guardian/The Observer, Football’s sexual abuse scandal:

Daniel Taylor’s reporting for the Guardian and Observer on historical sexual abuse has shaken English football. Dealing with incredibly sensitive material, and talking to many victims, including an interview with former Crewe player Andy Woodward (who waived his anonymity), Taylor built a picture both shocking and sadly familiar: vulnerable boys subjected to horrendous abuse by those who were supposed to watch over and develop them. Since the original article, hundreds more have subsequently come forward to report abuse in football. Football Association chairman Greg Clarke has put in place an independent review amid allegations of cover-ups and institutional failure, describing it as one of the biggest crises in the history of the FA.

Emma Youle, Archant Investigations Unit, The hidden homeless: £35m to keep the homeless homeless:

This investigation for the Hackney Gazette led to a campaign that ran over five weeks, revealing the borough’s enormous but hidden homeless problem and highlighting the thousands who are living in temporary accommodation in Hackney. Emma Youle used a combination of freedom of information requests, undercover reporting, witness testimony and digging through records to reveal human stories and institutional failing. The campaign resulted in the Hackney Gazette securing commitments from local politicians and authorities to devote more energy to solving the borough’s problems, rather than hiding them. Every one of the hostel residents who featured in articles for the campaign have since been placed in more suitable rented accommodation.


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