Paul Foot Award goes to Sweeney

By Colin Crummy

The first Paul Foot Award for investigative journalism went to BBC
reporter John Sweeney this week for his stories about the “shaken baby
syndrome” trials.

Sweeney won the £5,000 prize for his four-year investigation, run in
a number of publications including the Daily Mail, into the injustices
suffered by Sally Clark, Angela Cannings and Donna Anthony, wrongly
imprisoned for killing their children.

As a result the women were
freed, the paediatrician and chief prosecution witness Sir Roy Meadow
was struck off, many similar cases were referred to the Court of Appeal
and the guidelines on expert witnesses in alleged child abuse cases
were changed.

Private Eye and The Guardian set up the annual prize in memory of Paul Foot, who died last year.

The
runners up, who each received £1,000, were The Guardian’s Felicity
Lawrence for her exposé on migrant workers being exploited by
gang-masters; The Bristolian newspaper, self proclaimed “smiter of the
high and mighty”; Sunday Telegraph journalists Daniel Foggo and
Charlotte Edwardsfor revealing that the British Pregnancy Advisory
Service was facilitating illegal late abortions; The Herald’s Eamon
O’Neill for uncovering a corrupt murder conviction and the author
Heather Brooke for her attempts to strip away political secrecy.

Sweeney
said: “It is an enormous honour. Paul Foot was a hero of mine on What
the Papers Say when I was a teenager. I loved his contempt of power and
people in power – he was fantastic.

That tradition of questioning
power and of poking powerful people with a stick was something that
Paul drew on and what we all now celebrate.”

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