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Journalists behind Cambridge Analytica, Presidents Club and Oxfam sex scandal scoops among finalists for 2018 Paul Foot Award

By Sam Forsdick

The journalists behind the Presidents Club scandal, Cambridge Analytica files and Oxfam sex scandal cover-up scoops are among those up for the 2018 Private Eye Paul Foot Award for investigative journalism.

This year’s shortlist celebrates journalists from national titles the Times, the Financial Times, the Guardian, the Observer, plus the Sunday Post in Scotland and Buzzfeed News online.

The award was first set up in 2004 in memory of investigative journalist Paul Foot (pictured) who wrote for Private Eye and the Daily Mirror.

The winner will receive a prize of £5,000 at a ceremony in London on 19 June.

This year’s shortlist comprises:

  • Gordon Blackstock, Sunday Post – Hundreds of orphans buried in mass grave
  • Carole Cadwalladr, The Observer – The Cambridge Analytica files
  • Amelia Gentleman, The Guardian – Long-term UK residents classed as illegal immigrants
  • Madison Marriage, Financial Times – Men only: inside the charity fundraiser where hostesses were put on show
  • Sean O’Neill, the Times – Oxfam sex scandal cover-up
  • Investigations team, BuzzFeed – From Russia with Blood

Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye said: “I promise that this is one vote that won’t be influenced by the Russians!  It’s a brilliant short-list taken from an inspiring long-list and I don’t envy the judges.”

The judging panel includes Little Atoms editor Padraig Reidy, political journalist Julia Langdon, the Guardian’s Simon Jenkins, the New Statesman’s Helen Lewis, Francis Wheen of Private Eye, Paul Foot’s son Matt, and last year’s winner Emma Youle of Archant’s investigations unit.

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Reidy, who chairs the judging panel, said: “In a relentless torrent of breaking news, it’s a privilege to read work by journalists who have taken time and care to uncover stories that make a difference.”

Blackstock was nominated for his investigation into Smyllum Park orphanage which found 400 children from the orphanage had died between 1864 and 1981 and were buried in an unmarked grave.

Blackstock told Press Gazette last month: “Although when I first looked at it [Smyllum Park] it was out of historic interest, the more I uncovered the more I started to see the bigger story.”

He added: “You need to be dogged and determined and follow it through.”

Cadwalladr spent more than a year investigating data firm Cambridge Analytica and its alleged harvesting of personal Facebook data before the story was finally splashed in the Observer in March.

Speaking to Press Gazette after the story broke, she said: “For a long time I think I was seen as a pretty marginal figure clutching at straws and people didn’t understand that I’d actually got this wealth of evidence.

“I’d got these amazing sources and I was just desperate to just try and get that story out.”

Guardian reporter Gentleman is nominated for breaking the Windrush scandal which led to a public apology from the Prime Minister and the resignation of then Home Secretary, Amber Rudd.

Discussing the story’s impact with Press Gazette Gentleman previously said: “I’ve never written anything that’s had an impact on this scale, ever.”

Marriage is shortlisted for uncovering sexual harassment at the all-male Presidents Club Charitable Trust’s annual fundraising dinner at the Dorchester Hotel.

She went undercover as a hostess to get the scoop which broke the record for the most-read story on

Times journalist O’Neill investigated allegations that Oxfam workers were abusing victims of natural disasters that they had been sent to protect.

The sex scandal story prompted an inquiry into the charity and calls for proper, rigorous safeguarding procedures across the sector.

Lastly the Buzzfeed investigations team uncovered 14 mysterious deaths allegedly linked to Russia in the UK and one in the US in a series of seven stories – all of which are now being examined by police and the intelligence services.

Heidi Blake, UK investigations editor, previously said: “My team’s remit is about uncovering major wrongs perpetrated by people in positions of power in the public interest and the main objective there is to have real world impact and try to make real change for the better, and also to drive the news agenda and drive a social conversation about matters of major public interest.”

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