The Paul Foot Award 2011 was won by Nick Davies for his selection of key stories in The Guardian from a long-running and painstaking investigation into phone-hacking at the News of the World.
The runners up are Jonathan Calvert and Claire Newell for their series of articles in the Sunday Times, exposing corruption in the contests to host the World Cup Finals.
"Once again, the flourishing scale, and high standard of writing of investigative journalism, not just on our national newspapers but also on local papers, in magazines and in the trade press, as well as from independent campaigners, has been hugely impressive. At a time when some commentators are suggesting that the entire press has lost its way, the shortlist for this Award clearly demonstrates that the spirit of Foot's style of journalism is alive, well and kicking the people who matter. Nick Davies is a thoroughly deserving winner of this year's Paul Foot Award for an outstanding piece of work that has produced extraordinary results. This Award is recognition of the cheering truth that the best journalism exposed the worst," said Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye.
Private Eye magazine and The Guardian newspaper set up the award in memory of Paul Foot, the great journalist and campaigner, who died in 2004.
Nick Davies, The Guardian and guardian.co.uk – Phone-Hacking Investigation
A selection of key stories from a long-running and painstaking investigation into phone-hacking at the News of the World. 2011 sets the turning point with explosive revelations, the fallout from which continues across politics and the media.
The revelation by Nick Davies on 5th July 2011 that the News of the World had hacked into the phone calls of the missing teenager Milly Dowler stands out as the moment when the rest of the world stood up and took notice of the scandal that struggled to be heard.
As his editor wrote at the time: "Rarely has a single story had such a volcanic effect. Suddenly you couldn't keep the politicians, journalists, police officers and regulators off the TV screens. Police officers lined up to apologise for oversights and errors of judgement. MPs were suddenly saying very publicly things that, a fortnight earlier, they would only have whispered."
Within weeks, a humbled Rupert Murdoch was forced to close his best-selling News of the World; a multi-billion pound merger stopped in its tracks by the most overwhelming parliamentary vote anyone can remember; Britain's most senior policeman had resigned; and the media and political landscape of the UK had changed beyond recognition. But without Davies' dogged and lonely reporting over many years, none of this would have happened.
Davies' first report on the full extent of the phone-hacking scandal had been published almost exactly two years earlier on 8th July 2009. The report that News International, a major global media company, had secretly paid out £1m to settle legal cases revealing criminality within their business, should have been explosive. Yet there was silence, followed by a hasty police enquiry that gave News International a clean bill of health. News International then fiercely criticised The Guardian and the majority of the press, the regulator and most MPs seemed to agree that there was no real story there.
Of course there was a huge story, and one that isn't finished yet. It reaches so deeply into so many aspects of British life, including policing, politics, media and regulation, that the story will continue to play out over the months and years ahead.
Nick Davies is an eminently worthy winner of this Award.
Jonathan Calvert and Claire Newell, The Sunday Times – Fifa World Cup Scandal
A series of articles by The Sunday Times Insight Team exposing corruption in the contests to host the World Cup Finals.
There are billions of pounds at stake for the country that wins the right to host football's World Cup finals, yet the voting process is shrouded in secrecy and has, for a long time, been accompanied by rumours of corruption. An undercover investigation by The Sunday Times Insight team managed to penetrate this closed world, producing a series of articles exposing a culture of vote-buying involving top officials from Fifa's international governing body.
The 'World Cup votes for sale' story went around the world when it was first published on 17th October 2010 and began a tumultuous year for Fifa in which the Insight team continued to expose the murky deals amongst football's governing elite.
The Insight team's work over the last year continues to raise searching questions about the contests to hold the World Cup. Other leading Fifa officials who were named on the Sunday Times undercover tapes have lost their jobs or face on-going investigations as the corruption allegations widen. How did a tiny Gulf state, with no football tradition and temperatures exceeding 50 degrees Celsius when the competition would be played in the summer, become the host of the 2022 World Cup?
As a result of The Sunday Times investigation, Fifa announced that future contests to host the World Cup will be decided by all its 200 or so members rather than a small executive committee. It is now considering a raft of reforms and is still facing pressure from the UK House of Commons and others to conduct a proper inquiry into allegations of corrupt voting.
Jonathan Calvert and Claire Newell thoroughly deserve to be runners up in the year when the competition was very tough.
THE SHORTLIST - THE OTHER FINALISTS IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER
Jon Austin, Basildon Echo - A series of articles about Dale Farm and in particular, a major investigation into the ownership of property in Ireland by travellers in the UK facing eviction
Katharine Quarmby, Guardian Times, Mail on Sunday, Prospect Magazine, Disability Hate Crime Network, Big Issue, Scotsman, Sunday Times, Mencap Viewpoint Magazine, Disabled Go, Huffington Post, Telegraph - Disability Hate Crime Campaign
David Rose, Live magazine, Mail on Sunday/Mail Online - UK Aid to India
Zoe Smeaton, Chemist and Druggist Magazine, UBM Medica - Fight for Fairness Campaign
Jerome Taylor, The Independent - Open Justice: Opening the doors to the Court of Protection
Mark Townsend, The Observer - "Why aren't we looking for her?" Slavery in the UK