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The Paul Foot Award 2017

THIS year’s Private Eye Paul Foot Award for investigative and campaigning journalism has been won by Emma Youle of the Archant Investigations Unit, for her investigation in the Hackney Gazette of the borough’s enormous, but hidden, homeless problem – highlighting the plight of the thousands who live in temporary accommodation.

The Hidden Homeless: £35m to keep the homeless homeless campaign ran over five weeks in 2017 and was inspired by reporting in June 2016 about a death in a homeless hostel in Hackney. Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye, said: “A fine winner with a really strong topical story, Emma Youle has been making news, making trouble and making a difference. What more could you ask?”

Youle used a combination of freedom of information requests, undercover reporting, witness testimony and digging through records to reveal human stories and institutional failing. Her 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.

Set up in memory of the investigative journalist Paul Foot, who died in 2004, the award celebrates the tremendous work being done by some of the most talented and tenacious journalists working in the UK today. The other finalists for the 2017 award, in alphabetical order, were:

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

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

  • Will Hurst, The Architects’ Journal - The Garden Bridge investigation

  • Billy Kenber, The Times - Drug company profiteering

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

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

Padraig Reidy, chair of the judges, said: “The judges were unanimous on one thing: the extraordinary range and quality of this year's entrants. It was wonderful to read so much brilliant work and be reminded of the good that journalism can do.

“Emma Youle’s Hidden Homeless campaign combined investigation and campaigning to shed light on a problem many people don’t realise is happening right in front of our faces. She has made a difference to people’s lives, which is the best a journalist can hope for. It's also important to recognise that in an age of squeezed resources for local papers, a brilliant journalist like Emma is given the support to pursue a story like Hackney's Hidden Homeless.”

This year’s judging panel comprised Julia Langdon, political journalist and broadcaster; Simon Jenkins, The Guardian; Helen Lewis, New Statesman; Amol Rajan, BBC Media Editor; Francis Wheen, Private Eye; Matt Foot, criminal defence solicitor; and Padraig Reidy, Little Atoms. The winning campaign was awarded £5,000, with the other six shortlisted campaigns each receiving £1,000.


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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