The investigative reporter can be a curious creature. Brilliant, enigmatic, reclusive, evasive, tenacious to the point of bewildering colleagues, brave, unruly. They have uncovered corruption and wrongdoing in such “untouchables” as Fifa, the Met, Parliament, ministries, intelligence agencies, the media and banks.
We in Britain are blessed with high-calibre investigative journalists, although the vocation is vulnerable to budget cuts. To name-check a few rivals: Claire Newell and Holly Watt (Telegraph), Jonathan Calvert (Sunday Times), Nick Davies and David Leigh (The Guardian), Andrew Norfolk (The Times) and Tom Bergin (Thomson Reuters). i’s own Investigations Editor Tom Harper has been shortlisted for Reporter of the Year and Scoop of the Year for exposing the “blue-chip hacking” of personal information by big companies.
One man who should be on the list is Michael Gillard. His investigation for i and The Independent two years ago – “The copper, the Lawrence killer, and secret police files that expose a corrupt relationship” – prompted Theresa May to review the Stephen Lawrence murder investigation. The result: the explosive revelation that a Met officer spied on the Lawrence family and (as Michael revealed) that corruption may have compromised the investigation. Michael can no longer appear at public engagements because of his separate work exposing the gangster David Hunt.
Food for thought for those who threaten whistleblowers – I’m thinking of the Met and the NHS – and for those who seek to trim the wings of public interest journalism.
i is in Manchester tonight, at the Town Hall, for our second student debate, “A generation of young people is right to give up on Westminster politics”. Kick-off is 6pm, entry free, and remaining tickets are available here: ind.pn/imanchesterdebate