Monday, October 01, 2007

Remembering Paul Foot

I spent yesterday evening reading through the 17 long-listed entries for this year's Paul Foot Award

I love the idea of being a judge for such a great award honouring one of the greatest journalists (and proud NUJ member) there was - but trying to judge so many high quality entries is tough. Does The Guardian's BAE investigations top the Camden New Journal's expose of the treatment of elderly people; does the Sun's cockpit video scoop beat an undercover investigation in to the BNP or the unearthing of fraud in a local council or overspending at the National Audit Office.

After much weighing up the pros and cons of each article - and trying to think which Paul Foot would have most admired - I've whittled the long list down to my own shortlist. Later today I've got to argue my case with Ian Hislop, Richard Ingrams, Richard Stott, Alan Rusbridger and the other judges. The winner will be revealed on 15 October.

* Paul Foot was named journalist of the year in the What The Papers Say Awards in 1972 and 1989 and campaigning journalist of the year in the 1980 British Press Awards; he won the George Orwell Prize for Journalism in 1994 with Tim Laxton, won the journalist of the decade prize in the What The Papers Say Awards in 2000, and the James Cameron special posthumous Award in 2004.
His best known work was in the form of campaign journalism, including his exposure of corrupt architect John Poulson and, most notably, his prominent role in the campaigns to overturn the convictions of the Birmingham Six and the Bridgewater Four, which succeeded in 1991 and 1997 respectively. Foot exposed the framing of former British intelligence officer, Colin Wallace, in Northern Ireland during the 1970s, and the collusion between British forces and unionist paramilitaries. He took a particular interest in the conviction of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi for the Lockerbie bombing, firmly believing Megrahi to have been a victim of a miscarriage of justice.

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