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The Paul Foot Award 2018

WE ARE proud to announce an outstanding shortlist for the 2018 Paul Foot Award for investigative and campaigning journalism, named after the great journalist and campaigner, who died in 2004.

The panel of judges have worked their way through an impressive range of entries, from digital media as well as national and regional publications, and have narrowed them down to a shortlist of six. The winner of the £5,000 prize will be announced on 19 June at an event in central London. The shortlisted finalists are:


Gordon Blackstock
- Sunday Post
Hundreds of orphans buried in mass grave

The Sunday Post’s investigation centred on how many had died while in the care of Smyllum Park orphanage in Lanarkshire between 1864 and 1981, run by the catholic order the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul. A genealogy researcher combed through more than 15,000 death certificates, and the investigation found that more than 400 children had died and were buried in an unmarked grave.

By the third week of the paper’s coverage, the religious order had promised to build a memorial for the children in St Mary’s cemetery that would finally name all those who had died. The Sunday Post’s evidence was submitted to the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry.


Carole Cadwalladr
- The Observer
The Cambridge Analytica files

In December 2016, while researching the US election, Carole Cadwalladr began to explore the data analytics company Cambridge Analytica, which subsequently sparked a far-reaching 18-month technology investigation into the use of data in elections and specifically the EU referendum. Months cultivating sources resulted in a series of stories on data-driven advertising and messaging using social media.

The emergence of whistleblowers willing to go public in spring 2018 pushed Cadwalladr’s work to the international news bulletins and front pages. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg was called to testify to Congress and the European parliament, and a series of witnesses – including Cambridge Analytica directors and employees and leaders of the Leave campaigns – have been summoned to testify to parliament.


Amelia Gentleman
- The Guardian
Long-term UK residents classed as illegal immigrants

Amelia Gentleman’s campaign centred on tightened immigration regulations and the catastrophic consequences for a group of elderly Commonwealth-born citizens who were told they were illegal immigrants, despite having lived in the UK for around 50 years – but with no formal paperwork to prove it.

The Guardian reported threats of deportation to home countries for some, and on others who were denied NHS treatment, benefits and the chance to travel. The issues raised by this campaign ultimately led to the resignation of home secretary Amber Rudd, promises of more humane policy by her successor, and a pledge that members of the “Windrush” generation would no longer be threatened with deportation.


Madison Marriage
- Financial Times
Men only: inside the charity fundraiser where hostesses were put on show

Alerted by a source that many women who had previously worked at the Presidents Club Charitable Trust’s annual fundraising dinner at the Dorchester Hotel had been sexually harassed, Madison Marriage began an investigation that saw her go undercover as a hostess to witness first-hand how they are treated.

She reported on an evening where hostesses were groped, propositioned or harassed by diners throughout the dinner, which had a high-profile, all-male guest list that included MPs, CEOs and celebrities.

The article broke the record for the most-read story on FT.com, sparking debate over charity funding and the still prevalent use of young women as “eye candy” in male-dominated fields.


Sean O’Neill
- The Times
Oxfam sex scandal cover-up

This investigation into a sex scandal involving senior Oxfam staff in Haiti in 2010/11 reported on a world where men whose jobs were to help the most vulnerable victims of natural disasters and abject poverty were in fact exploiting them.

Dealing with issues of sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse, Sean O’Neill’s story was put together by old-fashioned means – making contacts, developing and protecting sources, and digging out old documents. The articles created a huge public reaction, an inquiry into Oxfam, and calls for proper, rigorous safeguarding procedures across the sector.


Investigations team
- BuzzFeed
From Russia with blood

In a two-year investigation, the BuzzFeed News investigations team uncovered evidence connecting Russian hitmen to 14 deaths in the UK and one in the US – all of which were treated as non-suspicious by the authorities. The investigation gained an audience of millions and sparked calls from across the political spectrum for decisive action, but none followed.

It was only after the Russian state had carried out a chemical weapons attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury that the British government finally bowed to pressure to reopen investigations into the 14 suspected assassinations BuzzFeed News had exposed.


The Paul Foot Award was set up in memory of revered investigative journalist Paul Foot, who died in 2004.

Paul Foot, an investigative journalist, editor and left-wing campaigner, worked variously for the Daily Record, the Daily Mirror, The Guardian and Private Eye. He was involved in many high-profile campaigns throughout his illustrious career, including the Birmingham Six, the Bridgewater Four and the John Poulson scandal. His accolades include the Journalist of the Year, the Campaigning Journalist of the Year, the George Orwell Prize for Journalism and in 2000 he was honoured as the Campaigning Journalist of the Decade.

Paul Foot died in 2004 at the age of 66.


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