Paul Foot Award 2013

And the winner is...

Paul Foot Winner 2013 David Cohen
Ian Hislop with David Cohen
DAVID COHEN, London Evening Standard for the Frontline London campaign.

THE Paul Foot Award for Investigative and Campaigning Journalism 2013, worth £5,000, has been won by David Cohen of the London Evening Standard for his work on gangs, which was part of the newspaper’s Frontline London campaign.

A Special Investigation Award of £2,000 was given to The Guardian’s Snowden Team for its investigation into the extent of mass surveillance undertaken by GCHQ. The other four shortlisted campaigns were each awarded £1,000.

Ian Hislop, the editor of Private Eye, said: “The results of the Paul Foot Award are a closely kept secret. Unless you work in GCHQ when you presumably have known for weeks. However what is not a secret is how impressive the entries are this year, how resilient investigative journalism is proving to be and how optimistic this made the judges feel. We tried to reflect the impressive range in subject matter by recognising the coverage of both global and local issues, by honouring stories that involved President Obama as well as those that involved youngsters in London, by giving a prize to a whole newspaper as well as one to an extraordinary single journalist.”

The Paul Foot Award 2013 - The Winner
David Cohen

Evening Standard
Frontline London

David Cohen’s campaign this year was his toughest yet, as he sought to access London’s violent criminal gangs. The campaign took five months to plan and saw Cohen having to win the trust of gang members, and even help a few of them exit “the roads” via social enterprises supported by small grants from the Evening Standard’s Dispossessed Fund. Cohen struck a fine balance between humanising those he met – a chaotic, hardcore group of young people – without ignoring what they had become.

The campaign had a remarkable degree of success and became truly interactive, as Cohen sought to deliver a hard hitting investigation, as well as champion social change. Following his campaign, three social enterprises have launched, run by former criminal gang members who demonstrated a desire to turn their lives around.

The campaign also prompted politicians to act. Government minister Nick Hurd agreed to release £3.8m of government money to help address the problem, and London mayor Boris Johnson has appointed a Gangs Czar and begun to organise a Gangs Roundtable and Gangs Summit.

The Paul Foot Award 2013 - Special Investigation Award
James Ball, Julian Borger, Nick Davies, Nick Hopkins, Paul Johnson, Ewen MacAskill & Alan Rusbridger

The Guardian
The Snowden Files: How GCHQ watches your every move

This investigation, taken from the Edward Snowden leaks, revealed for the first time the extent of mass surveillance undertaken by GCHQ, and the remarkably close relationship the agency has with its US equivalent, the National Security Agency. The Guardian revealed that the National Security Agency funded some of GCHQ’s activities to secure access to, and influence over, Britain’s intelligence gathering programmes.

A team of six spent a number of weeks on a campaign that was exhaustively checked to ensure that it did not threaten our national security. The Guardian revealed how GCHQ covertly gained access to the network of cables which carry the world’s telephone calls and internet traffic, all without any form of public acknowledgement or debate. This became one of the biggest stories of the decade, sparking an emergency debate and several other set-piece debates in parliament around the legal and supervisory framework under which GCHQ operates. The story also had international ramifications – even Barack Obama was forced to respond.

The Other Shortlisted Finalists, In Alphabetical Order

Tom Bergin
Corporate tax practices

Jonathan Calvert and Heidi Blake
Sunday Times
Westminster for Sale

Aasma Day
Lancashire Evening Post
Life on the margins of society: Preston Twilight Investigation

James Dean
The Times
Fakes, fraud and forgery in Lloyds selling scandal

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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25th May 2024
Private Eye Issue 1622