While striving to uncover the truth and hold those with influence to account, every journalist dreams of writing the scoop of the year – the kind that generates headlines beyond the original publication, gets people talking across the country, and delivers the genuine change that journalists work so hard for.
As follow-ups and new angles emerge, however, the painstaking hours that go into ensuring such stories are factual, balanced and rooted in hard evidence can go unappreciated.
But the breaking of powerful, agenda-setting scoops is one of the elements that make the UK press corps one of the very best in the world. That’s why, in celebration of the value that such journalistic rigour brings to our democracy and broader society, the ‘Scoop of the Year’ retains its place as an award category in the second edition of the Pagefield Press Awards 2023.
The winner will be announced at Pagefield’s annual drinks event our annual Negroni Party on Tuesday 28th November. The five shortlisted scoops are:
Izzy Lyons, Tom Kelly and Jason Groves, Daily Mail – Daily Mail exposes corrupt immigration lawyers
The public is all too aware of the greedy human traffickers encouraging asylum seekers to make the hazardous journey across the English Channel. Far fewer will be aware of the prevalence of illegal solicitation on the UK’s own shores to help applicants trick the authorities into approving false claims. Izzy Lyons, Tom Kelly and Jason Groves’ video investigation exposed the depth of these bogus legal practices and led to the Prime Minister instructing ministers and the Solicitors Regulation Authority to crackdown on false asylum claims.
Gabriel Pogrund and Harry Yorke, The Sunday Times – BBC Chairman’s loan guarantee for Boris Johnson
Public appointment processes are expected to be run openly and transparently. If things seem awry, we often look to the press to provide the facts and necessary scrutiny. When Boris Johnson announced Richard Sharp as his preferred candidate for the role of BBC chair, Gabriel Pogrund and Harry Yorke at The Sunday Times detailed a tangled web of conflicting interests which went unpublished in the MPs’ register of interests and signalled a potential breach of the Ministerial Code. Their investigation led to the eventual resignation of Sharp after an independent report confirmed their findings
David Conn and Paul Lewis, The Guardian – PPE Scandal in the House of Lords
In perhaps the most prominent example of the use of a ‘VIP fast lane’ for PPE contracts during the pandemic, Conservative peer Michelle Mone used her political influence to refer PPE Medpro to ministers. This resulted in more than £200m of government contracts being issued to the company weeks later. It would take two years for The Guardian’s David Conn and Paul Lewis to uncover the murky depths of the kickbacks paid to Mone and her husband, as well as the offshore secrecy deployed to make obtaining the truth as difficult as possible.
Dean Kirby, The i; and Paul Morgan-Bentley, The Times – The Prepayment Meter Scandal
In a joint nomination which brought the scale of the prepayment meter scandal to light, reporting from the i newspaper’s Dean Kirby and The Times’ Paul Morgan-Bentley helped bring about significant interventions from the Government and regulators to protect consumers during the cost-of-living crisis. Morgan-Bentley’s investigation saw him pose as an undercover debt agent for British Gas, portraying the tragic human impact of forcibly installing meters that increase energy costs for vulnerable families. Meanwhile, Kirby uncovered the obscure process through which court warrants were granted en masse to energy companies and allowed them to conduct this activity.
Joe Pike, Sky News – Sue Gray considered for top role by Keir Starmer
Leading up to and following her watershed report into Downing Street’s lockdown-breaking parties, Sue Gray was thrown into the media spotlight – a rarity for civil servants sworn to impartiality while in office. When Sky News’ then political correspondent Joe Pike broke the news that Sir Keir Starmer was looking to appoint Gray as his Chief of Staff, appointment processes were once again dragged out into the open to ascertain whether there was a conflict of interest given her damning indictment of Boris Johnson.
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