Barbara Davies

Daily Mail

Her writing is as pacy and gripping as any Netflix thriller. That, combined with her enviable perspicacity, means a Barbara Davies byline is a hallmark of true quality.

Such is her expertise that Davies beautifully conveys every bit of the drama and charge of the stories she tells without once overwriting. Take her article which unpicks the gruesome story of Jemma Mitchell, the osteopath who shocked the country when she was convicted of beheading her pensioner friend - not to mention her exclusive interview with TV producer Marina Ovsyannikova, who revealed all about her escape from the Putin regime. Readers held their breath as they took in Davies’ work, utterly rapt by her tales.

Yet light and shade are all part of Davies’ expansive remit - and she approached the Spanish FA ‘Kissgate’ scandal with as much rigour as any of her other projects, exploring how some believed Luis Rubiales’ controversial ‘un pico’ became an opportunity for a feminist witch-hunt.

Undoubtedly, then, Davies would be a more than worthy winner of this year’s Feature Writer Award.

Davies’ superb journalistic range - not to mention her dogged ability to track down even the most reticent of sources - was firmly on display in her investigation into what turned Jemma Mitchell from bubbly young woman to a religious fanatic who turned to murder. Mitchell’s ex boyfriend trusted Davies enough to exclusively tell her all about the troubling signs of Mitchell’s mental disturbances during their relationship. It was nothing short of gripping.

Meanwhile, the exclusive interview with Marina Ovsyannikova - recently sentenced in absentia in Russia for her ‘crime’ of speaking out against the Putin regime live on TV - is also testament to Davies’ persistence. The first ever interview Ovsyannikova gave to a British newspaper, and the first full retelling of her story, Davies spent a full year persuading her to speak to the Mail. To add to that achievement, the interview was also conducted in Russian, a language Davies has been studying for the past six years – another one of her many talents.

And Davies was well able to comprehensively anatomise one headline-grabbing story - Kissgate, in the aftermath of the Spanish women’s football World Cup victory. Speaking to Luis Rubiales’s family, and insightfully painting a pitch-perfect portrait of how changing social mores between ‘sexist dinosaurs’ and social media savvy feminists came to a catatonic head, her piece was the definitive last word on an event that dominated global news.