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Church expose reporter wins Young Journalist prize

A Manchester Evening News reporter who exposed a church claiming to cure cancer with a mixture of blackcurrant squash and olive oil has been named Young Journalist of the Year.

Richard Wheatstone , left, went undercover at the Victorious Pentecostal Assembly in Gorton after reading claims on the church’s website about curing cancer, HIV and diabetes.

He posed as someone who had an uncle with cancer and was offered a one litre bottle of blackcurrant squash and a 500ml bottle of olive oil for £14 – despite them costing less than £6 in supermarkets.

The scoop helped earn Richard the Young Journalist accolade at today’s Regional Press Awards in central London.

Richard received the prize from Paul Linford, publisher of HoldtheFrontPage, which sponsored the award for the third-year running.

Said Paul: “The quality of Richard’s journalism stood out in what is always a keenly-contested category and he thoroughly deserves this award.”

Richard’s other stories included a new development in the case of Dale Cregan, currently on trial for allegedly killing two female police officers, and the story of a tragic student who died after being sent home by hospital doctors who said he was “stressed.”

He won the award ahead of Bill Gardner of The Argus, Brighton, who revealed council plans to stop calling people Mr or Mrs after activists complained they were being “forced to choose between genders.”

Also nominated were Rachael Burnett of the Dorset Echo, Jacqueline McMillan, of The Echo, Basildon, and Sam Morris of the Lincolnshire Echo.

The award was open to journalists aged 26 or under on 31 December 2012 who had not previously been shortlisted for this award.

Richard is pictured below receiving his award from HTFP publisher Paul Linford, left, and presenter Nick Ferrari.