During the ceremony at BAFTA in Piccadilly on 2 November, a Special Lifetime Campaign Award of £2,000 was also presented to Eamonn McCann for his 40 years of campaigning journalism on behalf of the victims of Bloody Sunday.
"This has been a terrific year for Foot-style journalism," said Ian Hislop, the editor of Private Eye and one of the judges. "Paul would have been delighted by the longlist, shortlist and winner."
Each of the runners-up on the shortlist received £1,000. These were, in alphabetical order:
Jonathan Calvert and Clare Newell (Sunday Times) on MPs and peers seeking cash for influence ("I'm like a cab for hire" – Stephen Byers)
David Cohen (Evening Standard) on the plight of the poor in London, including children's poverty and the continuing existence of paupers' graves in the capital
Nick Davies (Guardian) on phone-hacking conducted by the News of the World when Andy Coulson, now the government's director of communications, was editor
Linda Geddes (New Scientist) on evidence that DNA tests are not always accurately interpreted
Also highly commended from the longlist were Andrew Gilligan (Sunday Telegraph) on the fundamentalist infiltration of Tower Hamlets; Nina Lakhani (Independent on Sunday) on the fate of NHS whistleblowers; Sean O'Neill and David Brown (Times) on the failure of Ealing Abbey to protect children from a known paedophile priest; and Robert Verkaik (Independent) on events at Guantanamo Bay.
The award was set up by Private Eye and the Guardian newspaper in memory of Paul Foot, the campaigning journalist who died in 2004. Chairman of the judges Brian MacArthur, who read all the original entries and selected the longlist for the panel of judges to consider, said: "It is always a cheering experience, giving the lie to any impression that investigative journalism is no longer so important to contemporary editors as it was.
"One pleasure is the unexpected entries: it isn't only the big beasts who impress. There was a creditable entry from Horse and Hound on equine cruelty, for instance, another from John Hoyte's website exposing the threat to airline passengers from aerotoxic fumes. And investigative reporters still flourish on regional evenings and weeklies."
The judges for this year's award were: Heather Brooke, Clare Fermont, Bill Hagerty, Ian Hislop, Brian MacArthur (chair) and Katharine Viner.