9. British journalism's greatest ever scoops: Thalidomide (The Sunday Times, 1972)


If a campaign can be a scoop then this deserves to be on a best-ever list – and was nominated by several readers.

It was the defining project of Harold Evans’s celebrated reign as editor of the paper from 1967 to 1981.  In 1972, The Sunday Times sought to highlight the plight of the 370 known victims of the drug thalidomide, which caused major birth deformities in babies.

The UK distributor of the drug, Distillers, had offered the victims total compensation of £3.25m.

The Sunday Times campaign helped prompt Commons action and a shareholder revolt at Distillers.

A new compensation deal worth £32.5m was eventually agreed.

After fighting an injunction all the way to European Court, in 1976 The Sunday Times also revealed that the drug’s developers had not met the basic testing requirements of the time before distributing it.



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