Newspaper industry’s awards shortlists us and paper for ‘news team of the year’
By Exaro Team | 10 March 2015
“The award for the best overall news team in terms of range and depth of coverage, reporting, scoops, pictures and design” – Press Awards
Exaro and the Sunday People have been jointly nominated in the newspaper industry’s Press Awards for ‘news team of the year’.
The nomination is for a series of stunning scoops last year on the ‘Westminster paedophile network’.
Exaro and the Sunday People worked together on the stories. It is highly unusual for a website to be nominated in the Press Awards because these are only for newspapers, but Exaro’s work on this investigation has featured heavily in the Sunday People over the past two years.
Three spreads published by the Sunday People make up the nominated entry. The first, from last July, was a story by the Sunday People’s Nick Buckley and Keir Mudie, “Thatcher ‘child abuse cover-up’”. The spread included an Exaro story, by Mark Conrad and David Pallister, about how two witnesses were alleging that they were sexually abused as boys at Dolphin Square, an apartment complex favoured by MPs near Parliament.
The Exaro story on Dolphin Square was to have major consequences.
The detective in charge of Scotland Yard’s wide-ranging investigation into allegations of child sex abuse by VIPs, contacted Exaro’s Editor-in-Chief, Mark Watts, to ask whether our two witnesses would talk to him and his team.
We passed on the request.
One of the witnesses, whom we named “Nick” to protect his identity, decided that he would contact the police following the approach to Exaro. Nick agreed to meet detectives last October, but insisted that Exaro’s reporter also attend.
These developments led to the next story in the Exaro-Sunday People nomination in the Press Awards 2014 in November: the Metropolitan Police Service’s paedophile unit launched ‘Operation Midland’, investigating child sex abuse at Dolphin Square and other locations.
The Sunday People also ran the story, by Mark Conrad, along with the newspaper’s Nick Dorman and Keir Mudie, across two pages: “Police probe ‘abuse at MP’s luxury block.”
Operation Midland was also investigating an allegation that three boys were murdered by members of the ‘Westminster paedophile network’.
Exaro held back from revealing this startling development for fear of disrupting the police investigation.
But, later in November, the Met chose to make it public, releasing the stunning statement that Operation Midland was investigating “possible homicide” as well as child sex abuse.
The story was all over newspaper front-pages, but the Press had no idea what exactly was being investigated, or even the number of alleged “homicides”.
The following weekend, Exaro revealed: “Operation Midland investigates Tory MP over boy’s murder.”
The report disclosed that the Met was investigating three alleged murders, including a claim that one boy was killed during a sexual assault in front of a former Conservative cabinet minister, named in January after his death to be Lord Brittan, who as Leon Brittan was home secretary in Margaret Thatcher’s government.
The Sunday People ran the story on the front page, and a double-page spread inside, by Keir Mudie and Mark Conrad: “I saw MP throttle young boy to death.” This is the third story in the Exaro-Sunday People nomination in the Press Awards.
Last week saw dramatic developments in the investigation, as police carried out a series of co-ordinated raids on properties under Operation Midland.
The Press Awards, which is run by the Society of Editors, says that it “celebrates excellence in journalism”. On the category for ‘news team of the year’, it adds: “The award for the best overall news team in terms of range and depth of coverage, reporting, scoops, pictures and design.”
Exaro and the Sunday People and are up against the Daily Mail, Reuters, the Mail on Sunday, The Sunday Times and The Times. Nominations are for stories that range from the barring of Nigella Lawson, the celebrity cook, from America over her courtroom confession that she took cocaine, to the “plot to buy the World Cup”.
The winners of the Press Awards 2014 are due to be announced tonight.
Exaro was also shortlisted for the British Journalism Awards 2014 for articles that led to the overarching inquiry into child sex abuse. David Hencke was nominated for ‘politics journalist of the year’ in the same awards, a category that he won for 2012, all for a wide range of Exaro stories.
Update 11.50pm: Exaro and the Sunday People were “highly commended” in the category for ‘news team of the year’ out of the six nominations. Congratulations to The Sunday Times, which won the award for its FIFA expose.