A regional news website’s investigation has received national recognition after broadcaster Andrew Marr used it to take the government to task on its coronavirus strategy.
The presenter highlighted an exclusive by local democracy reporter Leigh Boobyer, pictured, who obtained official data which showed a postcode neighbouring Cheltenham racecourse had the highest number of coronavirus hospital admissions in Gloucestershire earlier this month.
Ministers have recently been criticised for allowing the course’s annual horse racing festival, attended by more than 250,000 people, to go ahead prior to lockdown restrictions being implemented.
On his show on Sunday morning, Andrew asked the Foreign Secretary whether he thought it was a mistake to allow such mass gatherings to go ahead at the time.
Mr Raab responded that the government “took the scientific advice at the time”.
Leigh’s investigation also revealed the entire Cheltenham area was Gloucestershire’s “hotspot” for coronavirus hospital admissions at the same point.
Leigh told HTFP: “As I was watching the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday my ears immediately perked up when I heard him mention ‘Gloucestershire Live’, followed by him putting my exclusive story to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.
“It was a great surprise, and I’ll never forget it.
“When I first received the information through a confidential source, I had an idea that this would be a story of national importance, but perhaps still didn’t realise how much attention it would get – when I broke the news on Twitter the thread attracted more than one million impressions.
“I’m proud to have been part of a story which gives people the insight they need to judge the government’s handling of the lockdown.”