Orwell Prize 2013 Winners Announced

Wednesday 15 May 2013

  • Andrew Norfolk and Tom Bergin share the Orwell Prize for Journalism for their work for The Times and Reuters respectively
  • A. T. Williams wins the Orwell Book Prize for A Very British Killing: The Death of Baha Mousa (Jonathan Cape)
  • Marie Colvin’s On the Front Line wins the Orwell Special Prize
  • The winners of the Orwell Prize 2013, Britain’s most prestigious prize for political writing, were announced tonight, Wednesday 15th May 2013 at 8pm, at a ceremony at Church House, Westminster. The Prize is sponsored and supported by the Media Standards Trust, Political Quarterly, AM Heath and Richard Blair (Orwell’s son). The Orwell Prize for Journalism This year’s Orwell Prize for Journalism was awarded jointly to Tom Bergin, for pieces published by Reuters and Andrew Norfolk, for pieces published by The Times. This was a remarkably competitive year, the judges said, in which the Prize received a record number of very high quality entries. It was exhilarating and refreshing, they said, to receive such a quantity of great work at a time when some news organisation are looking inwards, and when journalists and their editors are under enormous economic pressure. The entries reminded them, they said, of the sheer quality of great journalism in the UK. Choosing two winners to share the prize is a reflection of the high standard of entries. This year’s Journalism Prize judges were Jo Glanville (Director of English PEN), Nicholas Timmins (former Public Policy Editor of the Financial Times) and Chris Mullin (author, journalist and former MP). The judges said: ‘Contrary to what is sometimes alleged, first-class journalism is alive and well in the UK as this year’s entries once again demonstrate. In an outstanding shortlist, Tom Bergin’s remarkable scoop was one of the stories of the year. Many months later it remains a live issue and continues to resonate. Tax accounting is not the most obvious subject to be a winner of the Orwell Prize. The quality and depth of Bergin’s reporting made a highly complex subject readable. Coupled with the economic and social significance of his investigation, the entry represents political journalism at its finest. As evidence of the outstanding standard of entries, there is an additional journalism prize this year for Andrew Norfolk. He tackled an immensely difficult and profoundly shocking issue with, with enormous tenacity, sensitivity and diligence over more than a year’s worth of sustained reporting. Both entries are investigative journalism at its best with an impact on the real world.’ The Orwell Book Prize A.T.Williams, A Very British Killing: The Death of Baha Mousa (Jonathan Cape) won the Orwell Book Prize. This chilling, gripping book unearths damning evidence of what happened to Baha Mousa. With a controlled ferocity A.T. Williams details the shameful treatment of Mousa and other Iraqis in Basra in 2003. This year’s book judges are Nikita Lalwani (Desmond Elliot award-winning author), Arifa Akbar (assistant books editor, The Independent) and Baroness Joan Bakewell (Labour Party life peer, broadcaster and writer). The judges said: ‘AT Williams has had the courage to take on a case that has already received so much press coverage and to turn it into something far bigger and more shocking than we understood it to be. He dissects and analyses with a clear-eyed determination to unpick the lies from the truths of this case, yet, for all its forensic detail, the book grips us emotionally, and has as keen a sense of storytelling as a horror story or courtroom drama. Ultimately, the greatest achievement of this incendiary, eloquent and angry book is that it humanises Mousa beyond the iconic and infamous figure he has become in his death. It was written in the spirit of Orwell’s journalism’ Special Prize On the Front Line: The Collected Journalism of Marie Colvin was awarded the Orwell Special Prize. Colvin’s work reflects on the state of humanity and the endeavour of a profession conducted passionately right up until she was killed in February 2012. This body of work takes the reader through three decades and across the globe into dark corners in the pursuit of truth. Director of The Orwell Prize, Jean Seaton, said: ‘Marie Colvin’s life – like many journalists – was abruptly and terribly closed as she was doing her job. The threats journalists face all over the world have gone up – yet we need their intelligence more than ever. But her work has been beautifully shaped in this book. A life given to holding the powerful to account.’ The Orwell Prize 2013 There were seven books on the Orwell Prize Book shortlist this year from 210 entries: Carmen Bugan Burying the Typewriter (Picador) Marie Colvin On the Front Line (HarperPress) Richard Holloway Leaving Alexandria (Canongate Books) Pankaj Mishra From the Ruins of the Empire (Allen Lane) Raja Shehadeh Occupation Diaries (Profile Books) Clive Stafford Smith Injustice (Harvill Secker) A. T. Williams A Very British Killing (Jonathan Cape) There were six journalists on the Orwell Prize for Journalism shortlist this year, from a record number of 155 journalism entries: Jamil Anderlini Financial Times Tom Bergin Reuters Ian Cobain Guardian Andrew Norfolk The Times Christina Patterson The Independent Kim Sengupta The Independent The Orwell Book Prize winner receives £3,000 and this year’s Orwell Prize for Journalism winners split the sum for £1,500 prize money each. All three winners – as well as Sean Ryan from The Sunday Times on behalf of Marie Colvin – were presented with handmade Orwell Prize trophies made and designed by Goldsmiths, University of London students, Timothy Powell and Wee-Min Chin. Unlike most literary prizes, the Orwell Prize takes writing and argument to the public throughout the year. This year we went to the Irrawaddy Literary Festival, the first international literary festival in Burma, and ran writers’ workshops for young people in Wigan. ENDS Notes to editors: 1. The Orwell Prize is Britain’s most prestigious prize for political writing. Every year, prizes are awarded to the work – for the book and for the journalism – which comes closest to George Orwell’s ambition ‘to make political writing into an art’. Each Prize is for £3000. 2. The Prize was founded by the late Professor Sir Bernard Crick in its present form in 1993, awarding its first prizes in 1994. The Prize is run in partnership with the Media Standards Trust and supported by Political Quarterly, Richard Blair (George Orwell’s son) and AM Heath.