The 2010 Paul Foot award shortlist – detention of children

I’ve had the pleasure of reading all the entries for this year’s campaigning journalism award, and here are the shortlisted journalists

One of my pleasures for the past few years has been to read all the entries for the Paul Foot award – and there were nearly 50 this year – and to draw up a longlist for the judging session chaired by Ian Hislop, the editor of Private Eye. It is always a cheering experience, giving the lie to any impression that investigative journalism is no longer so important to contemporary editors as it was in the days, decades ago, when the Sunday Times was exposing the Thalidomide scandal.

This year’s shortlist speaks for itself. Paul Foot would have approved. The six entries expose MPs seeking cash for influence (“I’m like a cab for hire”, Stephen Byers); the continuing existence of paupers’ graves in London; phone-hacking by the News of the World when Andy Coulson, now the government’s director of communications, was editor; the coverup of the British army’s actions on Bloody Sunday; the scandal of the detention of asylum seekers’ children; and show that DNA tests are not always accurate.

The shortlisted journalists are, in alphabetical order: Jonathan Calvert and Clare Newell, the Sunday Times; David Cohen, the Evening Standard; Nick Davies, the Guardian; Linda Geddes, the New Scientist; Eamonn McCann, the Irish Times, the Belfast Newsletter and the Guardian; Clare Sambrook, openDemocracy, the Observer, the Daily Telegraph, the Independent, the Guardian Community Care, Big Issue in the North, Morning Star, Counterfire, Nursery World, Private Eye, Manchester Mule, Baptist Times, Cumberland Herald, Cumberland News, Quaker Asylum & Refugee Network, Independent Catholic News, New Londoners, Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants Bulletin, and on other campaigning blogs.

But the six other entries on the longlist were impressive too. They included Andrew Gilligan (Sunday Telegraph) on the fundamentalist infiltration of Tower Hamlets; Nina Lakhani (Independent on Sunday) on the fate of NHS whistleblowers; Sean O’Neill and David Brown (The Times) on the failure of Ealing Abbey to protect children from a known paedophile priest; and Robert Verkaik’s investigation into Guantánamo Bay in The Independent.

One pleasure is the unexpected entries: It isn’t only the big beasts who impress. There was a creditable entry from Horse and Hound on equine cruelty, for instance, another from John Hoyte’s website exposing the threat to airline passengers from aerotoxic fumes. And investigative reporters still flourish on regional evenings and weeklies. There were notable entries from Lyn Barton of the Western Morning News, Jon Austin (Basildon Echo), the South Yorkshire Times, Paul Francis (Kent Messenger) and the Salford Star website.

• The winner of the 2010 Paul Foot award will be announced on 2 November