Yellow Advertiser scoops two national journalism awards for ongoing ‘Shoebury Sex Ring’ investigation

A YELLOW Advertiser investigation was today declared the public’s favourite newspaper campaign of 2018.

YA chief reporter Charles Thomson was also named by the Society of Editors as the best weekly newspaper reporter in Britain.

The prizes were dished out at the conclusion of Local Newspaper Week, at the annual Regional Press Awards.

The YA’s campaigning investigation into the alleged cover-up of a 1980s paedophile ring in Southend won the ‘Making a Difference People’s Choice Award’.

The Making a Difference Award was the only prize at the ceremony to be awarded by the public and saw the YA fend off competition from giant newspapers like the Manchester Evening News and the Birmingham Mail.

Host Nick Ferrari said the YA’s ‘Shoebury Sex Ring’ project had ‘required tenacity, intelligence and courage’.

He told the audience at Savoy Place, London: “Hours of work has led to the police investigation being reopened and the victims’ stories being told at last.”

Chief reporter Charles Thomson, who has led the Shoebury campaign since 2015, was named ‘Weekly Reporter of the Year’ at the ceremony, having been highly commended in the same category for the last two years.

Mr Ferrari said Charles had ‘impressed judges with his depth of investigative reporting’, writing ‘stories that amply demonstrate the tremendous value of local reporting’.

Judges described the YA as a free weekly paper ‘that consistently punches above its weight, earning nominations for its strong investigative coverage in national journalism awards, in categories alongside large, daily city newspapers and national news outlets’.

The ceremony featured a tribute to journalist Lyra McKee, who was posthumously honoured with the Journalists’ Charity Award after being shot dead last month in Northern Ireland.

Her mother and sister received a standing ovation as they collected the prize.

Judges described the YA as a free weekly paper ‘that consistently punches above its weight, earning nominations for its strong investigative coverage in national journalism awards, in categories alongside large, daily city newspapers and national news outlets’.

Ian Murray, executive director of the Society of Editors, said: “From covering local democracy to ensuring open justice the length and breadth of the UK, the local media is alive and playing a vital role – and these awards prove what good shape the industry is in.”

Charles said: “It is a great honour to have been recognised in these two categories and I must thank all those who voted for us in the Making a Difference category. Our Shoebury investigation remains ongoing. Most recently, we have taken legal action against Essex Council in an effort to force it to publish the results of a child sex abuse inquiry which it secretly commissioned more than 20 years ago and has kept hidden away ever since.”

Since 2015, the YA Shoebury campaign’s achievements have included:

* Prompting seven whistleblowing professionals to speak out about the alleged cover-up.

* Inspiring numerous victims come forward to police for the first time.

* Forcing Essex Police to formally review a 30-year-old investigation.

* Sparking a fresh investigation into the paedophile ring, dubbed Operation SANDS.

* Sparking a second police investigation into allegations made by a new complainant, codenamed ‘VictimSix’.

* Helping to gather evidence which resulted in the arrest of a notorious paedophile.

* Tracking down hundreds of bombshell historic documents and rescuing them from incineration.

* Revealing that the paedophile ring was run by a registered Essex Police informant.

* Uncovering the existence of a top-secret report, commissioned by Essex Council, into allegations that its own child protection staff were involved in child sexual abuse.

* Taking legal action to try to force the council to publish that report.

This work has already won five national awards and commendations in less than three years and was nominated for another four at the Regional Press Awards today, of which it won two.

https://www.yellowad.co.uk/article.cfm?id=142032&headline=Yellow%20Advertiser%20scoops%20two%20national%20journalism%20awards%20for%20ongoing%20%27Shoebury%20Sex%20Ring%27%20investigation&sectionIs=news&searchyear=2019

Charles Thomson

Chief ReporterEmail: [email protected]