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Top honour for Don

Top award of Journalist of the Year in Granada Television’s What The Papers Say Awards has gone to Don Hale, Editor of the Matlock Mercury, for his investigation into the case of Stephen Downing, the teenager convicted of the Bakewell Cemetery murder of Mrs Wendy Sewell in 1973.

Don was the only regional journalist to be honoured in this year’s 44th annual awards presented yesterday by the Rt. Hon. Ann Widdecombe MP at the Savoy Hotel, London.

The judges said: “Hale waged a lonely and dangerous crusade for six years. He did not have the might of a Fleet Street organisation behind him and the story wasn’t a glamorous one.

“Hale has doggedly pursued the truth…He sifted through court records and newspaper cuttings, knocked on doors and lobbied ministers, including the then Home Secretary, Michael Howard. He obtained a court order forcing police to release documents, which they had previously denied existed.”

As a result of Don’s investigation, Downing has now had his case referred back to the Court of Appeal.

Clive Anderson hosted the ceremony during which eight awards were presented for outstanding contributions to journalism over the past year.

Past and current presenters of the What The Papers Say programme submitted nominations for the awards, and the final winners were selected by a judging panel made up of Executive Editors, Producers and Journalists from Granada Television, the BBC and ITN.

This year, The Observer received four awards, The Guardian and Daily Mail picked up a brace of honours each, with The Sun and The Times also winning major awards.

Highlights of yesterday’s ceremony can be seen in a special awards edition of What The Papers Say tonight at 7pm on BBC2.

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