Clare Sambrook awarded Paul Foot prize for campaigning journalism to end child immigration detention

Investigative journalist and author Clare Sambrook has been awarded the Paul Foot award 2010 for her campaigning journalism against the detention of children by the UK immigration authorities.

As I’ve written before, Clare’s tireless campaigning over the past year should be an inspiration to journalists everywhere, especially those who are tackling tricky issues not always given much space in the mainstream press.

Here’s some info about the End Child Detention campaign and Clare’s work. Clare submitted work that exposed:

  • government attempts to bury medical evidence that detention harms children, & the cosy relationship between government and the security companies that run prisons and detention centres for profit.
  • Clare’s journalism is rooted in End Child Detention Now, a citizens’ campaign to end the scandal of child detention by the UK immigration authorities — formed in July 2009 by six friends.
  • End Child Detention Now members working unpaid and unfunded: persuaded 121 MPs to sign a parliamentary motion calling for the end of child detention; held vigils and demonstrations in London, York and Dagenham; support families in detention and on their release; addressed the Church of England Synod Public Affairs Council; collaborate with campaign groups including Shpresa, Refugee & Migrant Justice, SOAS Detainee Support, Women for Refugee Women, Yarl’s Wood Befrienders, Welsh Refugee Council, Positive Action in Housing; coordinated a series of public letters in the national press from church leaders, novelists, children’s writers, actors & directors; prompted questions in the Commons, the Lords and the Scottish Parliament and in six months raised nearly 5000 signatures on a national online petition.

Commenting on the rising ECDN campaign towards Christmas 2009, Dr Frank Arnold, clinical director of Medical Justice and an expert in torture scars said:

Over many years numerous groups and individuals have attempted to combat the horrible practice of detaining children, families, torture survivors and others who have sought refuge in the UK from brutality in their homelands. The process and the justifications for detention have become ever more illogical and baroque. For the first time, we are beginning to see a truly powerful groundswell against it.

So how did Clare end up doing what she does? Clare worked as a Daily Telegraph financial reporter before going freelance to pursue investigations. She is co-author (with Andrew Jennings) of The Great Olympic Swindle, shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award (2000). Her debut novel Hide & Seek (2005), published in thirteen languages, was a New York Times Editor’s Choice. Clare lives in Cumbria where she is working on her second novel. Her journalism appears in Private Eye, openDemocracy and among other titles. She says:

Reading Paul Foot’s books when I was fresh out of university gave me a strong sense of what journalism could and should be. This is a massive honour, hugely encouraging and a real boost to the End Child Detention Now campaign at a time when the government has reneged on its commitment to stop this inhumanity.

The Paul Foot Award was set up by Private Eye and the Guardian in memory of Paul Foot, the campaigning journalist who died in 2004. The £5,000 first prize was presented to Clare on Tuesday 2 November in London – each of the runners-up received £1,000.

The runners-up:

Jonathan Calvert and Clare Newell (Sunday Times) on MPs and peers seeking cash for influence (“I’m like a cab for hire” – Stephen Byers)

David Cohen (Evening Standard) on the plight of the poor in London, including children’s poverty and the continuing existence of paupers’ graves in the capital

Nick Davies (Guardian) on phone-hacking conducted by the News of the World when Andy Coulson, now the government’s director of communications, was editor

Linda Geddes (New Scientist) on evidence that DNA tests are not always accurately interpreted

Clare’s submission included: 7 X openDemocracy pieces,  8 X Private Eye, 1 X New Londoners and 1X

Links at:

Private Eye (issue 1269) 20 August 2010

Double detention
By Clare Sambrook
No wonder security company G4S was ‘disappointed’ with the news that the government is to close Oakington immigration detention centre, where a 40-year-old asylum seeker collapsed and died amid claims that he had been denied swift medical help.

Private Eye (issue 1266) 9 July 2010
Homer’s oddity
By Clare Sambrook
Amid mounting political concern about child detention just before the General Election, UKBA granted private contractors Serco a contract to carry on running Yarl’s Wood for the next three years, costing the tax-payer £900,000 every month.

Private Eye (issue 1265) 23 June 2010
Child’s prey
By Clare Sambrook
Last year, after a serious incident of child sex abuse at Yarl’s Wood, UKBA failed to investigate the incident or provide adequate care for the children involved. Then an official report on the matter was sneaked on-line with the words ‘Yarl’s Wood’ omitted.

New Londoners 17 June 2010
Despair, hope and despair again: the rollercoaster ride towards ending child detention
By Clare Sambrook
Ministers have taken the cruel and witless decision to carry on wrecking people’s lives while civil servants and ‘stakeholders’ engage in a wide-ranging review, chaired by . . . the detention policy’s most fervent defender: Dave Wood, UKBA’s director of criminality and detention, who misled a Parliamentary committee over the medical evidence of harm to children at Yarl’s Wood.

OpenDemocracy, Manchester Mule, Counterfire 19 May 2010
When they said ‘We will end child detention,’ they meant ‘Keep on arresting babies’
By Clare Sambrook
Sehar Shebaz and baby Wanya (picture above) eight months, arrested and detained, rushed out of Britain into danger in May 2010, only days after new government announced commitment to ending child detention.

Private Eye (issue 1262) 14 May 2010
Scare Centres
By Clare Sambrook
‘We recognise that when your child arrives at one of our centres they may be bewildered, tired and worried,’ security giant G4S tells families of young people locked up at its secure training centres. Children may be rightly worried.

OpenDemocracy 12 May 2010
Let’s make sure they really do end child detention now
On the day the coalition government pledges to end child detention Clare Sambrook urges heightened pressure and scrutiny.

Private Eye (issue 1261) 30 April 2010
Crime Pays
By Clare Sambrook
G4S Nick Buckles pockets £1,656,251, on top of a £6million pension pot, on top of a £115,000 dividend payment on his £4 million stack of shares, as detainee Eliud Nguli Nyense dies at Oakington Detention Centre.

OpenDemocracy 26 April 2010
Election: asylum seekers lose last safety net
During the General Election campaign asylum seekers lose their last safety net: MPs’ assistance
By Clare Sambrook

OpenDemocracy, Counterfire, Manchester Mule 13 April 2010

Surveillance + detention = £Billions: How Labour’s friends are ‘securing your world
By Clare Sambrook

Private Eye (issue 1259) 2 April 2010

Pulling the Woolas
By Clare Sambrook
Is minister Phil Woolas —  the MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth (majority 4,225) —  lying about child detention in order to appease the 5,435 Oldham residents who voted BNP in last year’s Euro Elections?

OpenDemocracy 19 March 2009

Has Meg Hillier gone mad?
By Clare Sambrook
The minister’s lies and evasions about child detention read on

Private Eye (issue 1258) 18 March 2010
‘All the detainees are treated with dignity and respect’
By Clare Sambrook
Rima Andmariam (above), aged 16, under threat of deportation because Home Office refuse to accept evidence of her age. Woken by Yarl’s Wood staff and told to dress for deportation the morning after her removal had been halted

OpenDemocracy 8 March 2010
Take one traumatised child . . . Arrested, detained, put in padded clothing, and held behind bars with adult men, because Home Office insisted he was a grown-up:  Child M, aged 14, pictured with his big brother Z, who is acknowledged by the Home Office to be 17.
By Clare Sambrook

The Guardian 19 February 2010
Don’t deny this detention damage: Government lies to undermine the Children’s Commissioner’s report about distress suffered by children held in Yarl’s Wood.
By Clare Sambrook

OpenDemocracy 17 January 2010
Roll calls, body searches and sex games
By Clare Sambrook
What Parliament isn’t being told about children’s lives inside a UK detention centre

Private Eye 10 December 2009
Serco Clowns
By Clare Sambrook
Serco and the Home Office throw a party to open the new school for innocent children forcibly detained at Yarl’s Wood.

Clare’s work — researching, writing, ghosting, dreaming up stunts, press-releasing, guiding into print — has directly generated reporting and comment on the government’s appalling detention policy in Private Eye,, openDemocracy, The Observer, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Independent, Community Care, Big Issue In The North, Morning Star, Counterfire, Nursery World, 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.


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