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Regional press writer shares Paul Foot Award

Doncaster Free Press journalist Deborah Wain has scooped first prize in the Paul Foot Award for Campaigning Journalism, sharing the award with David Leigh and Rob Evans, of The Guardian.

Deborah’s work was an exposé of corruption in the Doncaster Education City project.

The Guardian pair investigated the issue of bribery in the British arms trade.

Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye, said: “The judges had a very difficult choice. So we took a leaf out of the Prime Minister’s book and decided not to make it.

“There are therefore two winners and they come from opposite ends of the investigative journalism spectrum.

“One international juggernaut of a story brilliantly uncovered by a top national team and the other a first class domestic story doggedly revealed by a lone reporter on a local paper.”

The Learning and Skills Council and Doncaster Council had committed £37.5m to Doncaster Education City, an integrated post-14 education system with a new college building fed by five community campuses, making it the most costly education scheme in England and Wales.

The judges said that Deborah’s incisive reporting had revealed that not only had the scheme become an embarrassing fiasco, but also that corrupt inner circles have systematically siphoned off funds to serve their own ends.

Chairman of judges, Brian McArthur, said: “Making extensive and skillful use of the Freedom of Information Act, Wain discovered a truly shocking story of self-interest, greed and ineptitude.

“An Ofsted report has since suggested that Doncaster has ended up with little more than a hugely expensive new college building without any significant increase in educational standards.

“Deborah conducted her investigation with considerable skill and determination.”

The judges said that few investigations by British journalists have provoked such widespread international consequences as that by David Leigh and Rob Evans of the Guardian in their campaign to expose the issue of bribery in the British arms trade.

It involved ministers engaged in cover-ups, corrupt rulers and one of the world’s most powerful corporations.

One judge described their work as ‘a model of how to integrate print and online media’, because of a website called The BAE Files, which took three months to build, and which enables people worldwide to access the originals of hundreds of documents from government archives as well as video and audio clips of key players, pictures of the weapons involved and maps.

The runners-up were Paul Keilthy, of the Camden New Journal, Rob Waugh, Yorkshire Post, and the free quarterly magazine, The Salford Star.