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Exposing Britain’s Social Evils

Ria Chatterjee

Ria is a reporter for ITV News London. She aims to take people on a journey of deeper understanding regarding youth violence. Ria believes that capturing both the darkness and light within people’s experiences is a journalistic imperative. She feels solution-focused reporting is vital – that there must always be room for hope.

Her shortlisted pieces are:

Aaron Walawalkar, Eleanor Rose, Jessica Purkiss, Mirren Gidda, Mark Townsend

The stories are the work of the Liberty Investigates team – Eleanor Rose, investigations editor, and Aaron Walawalkar, Jessica Purkiss and Mirren Gidda, investigative journalists – with Mark Townsend, home affairs editor of the Observer. 

Liberty Investigates is an editorially independent journalism unit based at the human rights organisation Liberty. It aims to expose injustice through rigorous and collaborative investigative journalism. It launched in April 2020.

Their shortlisted pieces are:

Noel Titheradge and Rianna Croxford

Noel Titheradge is a senior investigative journalist for BBC News based in London. He focuses on uncovering failings in institutional care, abuses of power and social injustices. A former producer at Panorama, he writes long reads and produces and directs documentaries.

Rianna Croxford is an investigations correspondent for BBC News. Based in London, she specialises in investigating abuses of power in politics and minority communities. She became the corporation’s youngest national correspondent when she was just 25-years-old.

Their shortlisted pieces are:

David Conn

David Conn is investigations correspondent at The Guardian and the author of several books. He has been writing for 25 years about the Hillsborough disaster, highlighting and exposing the injustices perpetrated afterwards by the police and English legal system, and covering the bereaved families’ and survivors’ relentless campaign for justice.

His shortlisted pieces are:

Samuel Lovett

Samuel Lovett is a senior news correspondent at The Independent. He covers a range of beats, with a particular focus on health and science. As a former science correspondent, he extensively covered the pandemic and investigated various aspects of the UK’s response to Covid-19, as well as its wider impacts on society.

His shortlisted piece is:

Patrick Strudwick

Patrick Strudwick is a Special Correspondent for the i paper, a former LGBT editor of BuzzFeed News, and for 13 years has been exposing conversion therapy. His original undercover investigation, in which he subjected himself to the “treatment”, paved the way to the proposed ban, and more recently he’s revealed how corrective rape is taking place on British soil.

His shortlisted pieces are:

Patricia Clarke, Basia Cummings, Tom Kinsella, Matt Russell, Louise Tickle, Claudia Williams

Hidden Homicides was reported by Louise Tickle, an award-winning journalist with expertise on domestic abuse and child protection. Additional reporting was by Claudia Williams and data journalist Patricia Clarke. The producer was Matt Russell, and original music was by Tom Kinsella. The editor and executive producer was Basia Cummings.

Their shortlisted entries are:

Yvonne Roberts

Yvonne Roberts is the former Chief leader writer of The Observer, and the first political writer in residence at Sussex University. She is a Fellow of the Young Foundation. She has written several non-fiction books and novels, worked in current affairs television and has written for most of the broadsheets as a feature writer, interviewer, investigative journalist and columnist.

Her shortlisted pieces are:

Ed Thomas

Ed Thomas is a Special Correspondent at BBC News. His reporting inside Wandsworth Prison and the inequality exposed by Covid won Royal Television Society awards in 2017 and 2022. His work often focuses on communities and people struggling to be heard in modern Britain and his extended reports feature on the BBC News at Ten and BBC online. Over the past 12 months Ed, with picture correspondent Phill Edwards and Senior Producer Lou Martin spent months in Burnley to witness the impact of the pandemic on the poorest, their reporting was an unflinching look at the lives of those in the most deprived areas of England.

His shortlisted pieces are:

Simon Akam: ‘Britain and the Pandemic’

Simon Akam (@simonakam) is a contributing writer for 1843 magazine, sister magazine to The Economist. Alongside his work for The Economist, he writes for publications including GQ, Outside and Bloomberg Businessweek. He is the author of The Changing of the Guard: the British Army since 9/11 and co-hosts a writing podcast Always Take Notes.

In his features for 1843 Magazine, Simon Akam has tackled complex stories about Britain’s handling of the pandemic, ranging from the NHS’s battle against the virus, to contact-tracers in Yorkshire. The inside story of Britain’s fight against covid-19 is the result of three months following doctors, nurses and paramedics in London as they fought the most devastating pandemic for a century. This is the untold story of what it felt like to be on the front-line: the chaos, the fear, even the exhilaration of health-care workers as they struggled to manage this most unpredictable disease. In ‘On the hunt with Yorkshire’s virus-detectives’, Simon travelled to northern England to embed with a team of local coronavirus contact-tracers. As the UK’s national system buckled under the resurgence of coronavirus, Simon investigated the system’s shortcomings, and explored whether local track-and-trace schemes offered a fix.

Emma Youle: ‘This is Britain’s Housing System in 2020: A Two-Part Investigation’

For a year, Emma Youle carried out interviews with two families living in temporary homeless housing for her special two-part investigation for HuffPost UK. Her reporting focuses on the experience of living in one room, with access to shared kitchens and bathrooms. Because these families are housed, and not in public view like rough sleepers, conditions in this type of homeless accommodation are often hidden. The reporting spotlights the severe overcrowding they face and the toll it takes on mental health. Their stories are also documented through the pandemic, to track its impact on some of the UK’s most vulnerable households. In the second part of the investigation, Emma explored the wider housing crisis and analysed government data to reveal how it deepened sharply in the early months of the pandemic.

Emma Youle is an award-winning investigative journalist who worked for regional newspapers before joining HuffPost UK as special correspondent. She has covered stories including the contaminated blood scandal, the housing crisis, historic child abuse, and won the Private Eye Paul Foot Award 2017 for her reporting exposing conditions inside homeless hostels.

Lewis Goodall: ‘The Exams Fiasco’

Lewis Goodall is Policy Editor for BBC Newsnight where he covers politics, policy, government and economics across the UK and beyond. Previously he was Political Correspondent for Sky News. His book on the recent history of the Labour Party Left for Dead was published in 2018.

Goodall writes: “From mid 2020, it was obvious to me the proposed system to replace exams could be a catastrophe; quite literally, injustice could be said to have been built into its operation. It was a mechanical system allocating preferment not on the basis of merit or desert but the academic history of an institution. As results season came I began to hear stories of students from poor areas, predicted top grades, being downgraded. I reported on Twitter what I was hearing (these threads received millions of impressions). Soon I was inundated with cases. It became clear to me this injustice was ubiquitous and affecting England’s working class student most. Over the next weeks, online and on television, I explained to the public (and politicians) why the system was inherently unjust and the chaos it created, whilst telling a wider story about an increasing tyranny of apparently neutral data algorithms in the operation of modern policymaking.”

Sophie Campbell: ‘Victim, Incompetent, or Mentally Ill? How Women Navigate the Oppressive Environment of the 21st Century Prison’

In 2018, Sophie Campbell managed to find a home and employment in the space of two weeks. “As a highly educated young woman,” she writes, “nothing about my story is remotely interesting until you learn I achieved all of this despite being one of thousands of women who every year are released from prison homeless.” In these pieces, Campbell has used her experiences as a former prisoner to hold the criminal justice system (cjs) to account, exposing its exploitation of female prison labour and the exposure of these women to systemic gender inequality across education and employment, showing how women from poor and racially marginalised communities are ‘being disappeared’ from mainstream society.

Sophie Campbell is an author and freelance writer whose work has appeared in the Harvard Women’s Policy Journal and BERA. She is the winner of the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize and has been shortlisted for the Financial Times/McKinsey Bracken Bower Prize, the National Press Awards and the Amnesty Media Awards.

Richard Watson: ‘Hate Crime’

Richard Watson is a correspondent for BBC Newsnight, specialising in investigative work. At the start of his career, Richard covered the first Gulf war. After this he joined the BBC, working for The Money Programme, File on 4, Newsnight and Panorama. He has investigated organised crime, terrorism and miscarriages of justice.

Watson writes: “In December 2019 three black women were brutally attacked in London by a gang of white men. One of the women, a 37-year old from London, was kicked unconscious. The Metropolitan Police categorised the incident as a serious hate crime but failed to search for witnesses or recover CCTV and closed the case without even taking victim statements. She then approached me saying the police had racially profiled them, assuming it was a drugs deal gone wrong. I was reminded of the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in 1993 and a police investigation hampered by institutional racism. I wondered if similar themes would emerge: she was determined to hold the police to account, and a Newsnight film would give her a powerful voice. I began a detailed investigation. Nearly 30 years on from Stephen Lawrence’s murder, the final film shone a harsh light on police attitudes and exposed multiple failures. The Met referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, apologised to the women and reopened the case. After seeing the Newsnight report, a witness came forward who had filmed the attack on his mobile phone. One of the alleged attackers was arrested and has been charged with racially aggravated assault.”

Robert Wright: ‘Behind Closed Doors: Modern Slavery in Kensington’

Robert Wright has worked for the Financial Times since 1997 in many roles, including Budapest correspondent, transport correspondent and US industry correspondent. He is currently social affairs correspondent. He focuses on immigration and policing, seeking to show how policy is working and giving voice to those whom the system fails.

Wright writes: “I first heard of the work of Kalayaan and other groups helping escaped domestic workers in 2019 and spent months squeezing research on the subject around my day-to-day reporting. I was profoundly disturbed to hear the stories of women who’d slipped away from abusive employers during visits to the UK and felt appalled about their plight. I thought it important to highlight the huge barriers to justice that faced this group, who as immigrants with no roots in the UK are as vulnerable as any fleeing migrants could possibly be. From the moment I met some of the women in Kensington Gardens in July 2019, their courage, resourcefulness and tenacity profoundly moved me. However, the issue also had wider significance. I recognised that, if the government preferred to avoid making minor adjustments to the visa arrangements of this small, vulnerable group, there were real questions about its commitment to tackling modern slavery. I consequently went in some detail in the piece into why the Overseas Worker’s Visa is so fundamentally flawed.”

Jane Bradley & Amanda Taub: ‘Failings in Britain Leave Victims of Domestic Violence in Peril’

In March 2020, The New York Times began the first comprehensive investigation into the UK government’s flawed response to the surge in domestic abuse under lockdown, interviewing more than 50 government and police officials, experts, support workers and abuse survivors. The investigation revealed how ministers never prioritised domestic abuse in lockdown planning and failed to deliver promised support to vulnerable people. Through a powerful interactive visualisation, the feature memorialised all 26 women and girls killed by male partners or relatives during the first few months of lockdown and ensured they were remembered as more than a statistic. The team compiled the list of suspected domestic homicides using data from the Counting Dead Women Project and painstakingly verified each case through police and court records, press reports and interviews because the authorities do not centrally collate detailed information on domestic homicides.

Jane Bradley is the UK investigative correspondent for The New York Times. She is based in London where she focuses on uncovering abuses of power, social injustices and financial crime and corruption. Amanda Taub is a London-based news columnist and reporter for The New York Times, focusing on how gender, race and identity shape global events.

Jennifer Williams: ‘The North in a Time of Covid’

“The story of how poor policy helped coronavirus rip through some of England’s poorest Northern communities did not begin with the discovery of Covid-19. Its prologue was written during decades of central failures to properly serve, fund or listen to those places. From Manchester we predicted the consequences even as policies were landing, heavily, from hundreds of miles away: from the perversity of hollow, monolithic central systems to the hoarding of vital information within them and the prioritising of rhetoric over experience. We were the first to query local lockdown policies that failed to define either ‘local’ or ‘lockdown’. Through a long Covid summer, we tried to explain how life in Greater Manchester was meant to be lived, as Parliament lapsed into recess, ministers changed our rules day by day and the virus bubbled endemically in our poorest populations, outside of the national spotlight. Autumn’s showdown may have shocked government but it didn’t surprise us. A year on, the North West has recorded the highest death rates in the country. But behind those numbers sit older, deeper inequality and neglect that will take far longer to address than Covid-19 itself.”