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Regional reporter beats nationals to win Foot award

A local newspaper reporter’s investigation into the extent of homelessness on her patch has won a top national award for investigative journalism.

Emma Youle highlighted the hidden homelessness problem in the London Borough of Hackney in a Hackney Gazette campaign earlier this year.

Last night she was named the winner of the Private Eye Paul Foot Award for Investigative and Campaigning Journalism in recognition of the campaign, entitled Hackney’s Hidden Homeless.

Emma, who overcame competition from Daily Mail and Guardian journalists among others to win the £5,000 top prize, is pictured below with Private Eye editor Ian Hislop after receiving the award.

Ian Hislop, Editor, Private Eye & Emma Youle, Archant Investigations Unit
Emma, who is part of the Archant Investigations Unit, revealed that the borough was spending £35m to house thousands of homeless people in temporary accomodation.

She used a combination of freedom of information requests, undercover reporting, witness testimony and digging through records to reveal the human stories behind the scandal.

Chair of judges Padraig Reidy said: “The Paul Foot Award judges were unanimous on one thing: the extraordinary range and quality of this year’s entrants. It was wonderful to read so much brilliant work and be reminded of the good that journalism can do.

“Emma Youle’s Hidden Homeless campaign combined investigation and campaigning to shed light on a problem many people don’t realise is happening right in front of our faces.  She has made a difference to people’s lives, which is the best a journalist can hope for.

“It’s also important to recognise that in an age of squeezed resources for local papers, a brilliant journalist like Emma is given the support to pursue a story like Hackney’s Hidden Homeless.”

Ian Hislop added: “A fine winner with a really strong topical story.  Emma Youle has been making news, making trouble and making a difference. What more could you ask?”

The award, set up in memory of investigative journalist Paul Foot after his death in 2004, has only once before been won by a regional press journalist – Deborah Wain of the Doncaster Free Press in 2007.

The other finalists, who each receive £1,000, were as follows:

Daniel Balint-Kurti & Leigh Baldwin, Global Witness – The Deceivers
Katherine Faulkner, Daily Mail – How Royal Mail helps conmen defraud the elderly
Will Hurst, The Architects’ Journal – The Garden Bridge investigation
Billy Kenber, The Times – Drug company profiteering
Maeve McClenaghan & Crina Boros, Energydesk – Big fish barons squeeze out small-scale fishermen
Daniel Taylor, The Guardian/The Observer – Football’s sexual abuse scandal