The Financial Times crowned a year in which it has piled on sales and profits by being named British Press Awards newspaper of the year at Grosvenor House on Tuesday night.
Andrew Gilligan completed a remarkable comeback from Hutton report infamy to be named journalist of year for his series of exposÃ©s revealing allegations of corruption surrounding the office of London mayor Ken Livgingstone.
The other big individual winner was Sun defence editor Tom Newton Dunn who ended the night clutching four prizes: reporter of the year, scoop of the year, campaign of the year and the Cudlipp Award for outstanding tabloid journalism.
Financial Times editor Lionel Barber said the FT‘s success in 2007 proves that investment in high-quality journalism pays off, after picking up the newspaper of the year prize.
The prize was decided after votes from the 100 members of the British Press Awards academy.
Accepting the prize, editor Lionel Barber invited every FT journalist at Tuesday night’s awards ceremony to join him on stage.
He said the win illustrated that high-quality journalism remained a vibrant, sellable force.
‘People say newspapers are dead. Well, we put the price up and our circulation went up and that’s a great tribute to quality journalism. We have invested in quality, and quality will win out. It’s a great tribute to those who believe that high-quality journalism matters. I’m over the moon. To win this and the What the Papers Say award has never been done in the Financial Times’ history.”
He added: ‘We obviously have benefited from the big story of the year being the credit crunch. We have had a fabulous team in New York and London. But we also broke big stories – like Brown has Stalinist tendencies, we broke the Wolfowitz [World Bank president] and his girlfriend’s remuneration story.”
Barber also said that investment in journalists was key to the paper’s success. ‘I’ve hired a lot of people. Some of the best people from other newspapers have wanted to join the FT.”
The FT’s Gillian Tett also won business and financial journalist of the year, and Philip Stephens won political journalist of the year.
The top individual prize of journalist of the year represented the culmination of a remarkable career comeback for Andrew Gilligan – who resigned from the BBC in 2004 after his journalism was criticised in the Hutton Report.
The award, also decided by the 100-strong British Press Awards academy, was in recognition of his series of articles, for the Evening Standard, investigating allegations of corruption surrounding London mayor Ken Livginstone, which have led to the departure of two senior aides.
Gilligan thanked ‘Alastair Campbell, Ken Livingstone and all the people who have got me here,’after picking up the top award of the night.
He said: ‘Even though I was only out of work for two weeks after Hutton , there have been a lot of people who have said ‘there is something sinister about him’. This puts that to rest – I have been voted the best journalist in the country by my peers.”
Gilligan thanked his editor Veronica Wadley for giving him a job and believing in him ‘before it was fashionable to do so”.
The Guardian’s main Iraq reporter Ghaith Abdul-Ahad picked up foreign reporter of the year, and The Guardian also won the new category of website of the year. Guardian photographer Sean Smith added the British Press Award for digital journalist of the year to the RTS prize his film and picture essays from Iraq have already won.