Clare Sambrook wins Bevins Prize

Freelance journalist Clare Sambrook has won this year’s Bevins Prize for outstanding investigative journalism for her stories about children in the asylum system.

The award is the second prize won by Sambrook this month. Last week she collected the Paul Foot Award – similarly presented to her for work highlighting the plight of child asylum seekers in the UK who are often separated from their families and held in secure facilities under enormous physical and mental stress.

Judges praised Sambrook, who is the founder of the End Child Detention Now campaign, for exposing an issue that had previously gone largely unreported by filing reports to the opendemocracy.net website and across various other media outlets.

Presenting her with her prize at the ceremony, in London last night, award trustee Andrew Marr praised the ‘huge amount of reporterly work’conducted by Sambrook, who he said had straddled the online, printed and the broadcast worlds to ‘thrust her campaign as hard as she could up the nether regions of those in power”.

‘We chose somebody who has operated through newspapers, online and has turned her journalism into a huge campaign,’he said.

‘In this country, which is allegedly civilised, at this moment children of people who have come in completely as of right to seek asylum are incarcerated in a way that is utterly against all our best traditions.

‘This was a cause that was championed by our winner, which affected the general election campaign… including eminently the Liberal Democrats whose leader denounced the practise and who now as deputy prime minister appears to have done very little about.”

Sambrook said: “Anthony Bevins set a terrific example of journalism keeping a distance from power, finding his own stories with tenacity and a sense of mischief. I am stunned to find my name linked to his.

“This is especially welcome to the campaign at a time when the Government has completely reneged on its commitment to end child detention.”

In its third year, the Bevins award is presented in memory of Tony Bevins, the first political editor of The Independent, who died in 2001 after a short illness.

The Prize is a bronze statue of a ‘Rat up a Drainpipe’, Bevins’ favourite phrase, capturing the essence of his approach to journalism which famously caused mischief in both the political and journalism world.

Guardian journalist Paul Lewis won last year’s prize for his series of stories about the death of Ian Tomlinson during the G20 protests.

The 2008 inaugural award was presented to Times reporter Deborah Haynes for her coverage of Iraqi interpreters facing persecution.

A further tongue-in-cheek award was made last night to the newspaper the judges felt had spent the last year ‘conspicuously failing to live up to the highest journalistic standards”.

The ‘anti-award’was won by the News of the World for for the re-emergence of the phone-hacking scandel. No one from the paper was present to collect that prize.

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