Award-winning journalism: Bureau reporters win Legal Reporting Award

A team of journalists from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism won this year’s prestigious Legal Reporting Award for their eight-month investigation into joint enterprise.

Maeve McClenaghan, Melanie McFadyean, and Rachel Stevenson received the award from Sir Alan Moses, retired Court of Appeal judge and first chair of the Independent Press Standards Organisation.

The Legal Reporting Awards were established by the Bar Council to recognise print and broadcast journalists whose work contributes to a greater public understanding and awareness of legal issues. Two awards are made each year – one for the best piece of written journalism and another for a broadcast piece.

The Bureau’s winning entry was described as “ground breaking research”. It investigated the use of the controversial legal doctrine of joint enterprise in murder trials.

The investigation showed for the first time the high number of people prosecuted under this ancient legal device and highlighted the number of people serving long sentences for being associated with individuals and gangs who committed murder.

The investigation, which judges said “made a compelling case for a review of the law”, was reported on by the wider media including the Guardian, the BBC, the Mail on Sunday, the Radio Times, Vice News and the Independent.

Chair of the Bar Council, Nicholas Lavender QC said: “Judging the entries to the Legal Reporting Awards was both a challenge and a privilege. The entries demonstrated that legal journalism in the UK is of an exceptionally high standard, particularly in the case of the winners, who have unearthed and investigated stories of genuine public interest, and then told those stories in ways which educate and inform us about important legal issues, challenging us to look and think again and inspiring us to take action.”

Competition was fierce. The shortlist included: Robert Verkaik, The Independent; Owen Bowcott , The Guardian; Emma Howard, The Guardian and Frances Gibb, The Times.

The Bureau’s work on joint enterprise can be viewed here.

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