Ben Riley-Smith

The Daily Telegraph

The three articles submitted broke new ground in important areas of political journalism, displayed different reporting skills and, we believe, were firmly in the public interest.

The first piece shone a light onto Rishi Sunak, his connections to influential figures in the media and how decisions are made that determine which individuals govern Britain. It was revealed that Mr Sunak was on the brink of resigning over partygate but was convinced not to after talking to a series of senior figures in Rupert Murdoch’s media empire. The reporting concerned what happened on 12 April 2022, the day both Mr Sunak, then Chancellor, and Boris Johnson, then the Prime Minister, were fined for breaking Covid laws. It detailed how Mr Sunak drafted a resignation statement and discussed it with Lord Hague and Lord Finkelstein, columnists at The Times, and Mas Siddiqui, a News Corp director. Mr Sunak was warned he was being politically naive in resigning, given quitting would likely bring down Mr Johnson too. He decided to stay, with Mr Johnson also continuing in post. It was only three months later when Mr Sunak quit at the same time as Sajid Javid, triggering a slew of other ministerial departures, that Mr Johnson announced his resignation. The revelations shone a light on the most critical relationship in government, that between a chancellor and the prime minister. It also showed to readers the role influential media figures can play on decisions about the fate of premierships - an aspect of power often is hidden from view. The Times would endorse Mr Sunak when he later ran for the Tory leadership. Number 10 did not contest any of the reporting. The story was uncovered by the journalist during work for his book The Right to Rule, which The Telegraph serialised. The second article was about the bullying investigation into Dominic Raab, then the Foreign Secretary. It was the intrepid journalism of other reporters which revealed claims about Mr Raab’s conduct that led to the investigation. On the day when the probe’s conclusions were announced, standing up some bullying allegations, details of the critical case involving a senior official were left unclear. The Telegraph revealed it involved a British ambassador said to have proposed allowing Spanish boots on the ground in Gibraltar and how Mr Raab reacted. Reporting on such contested, emotive incidents is challenging. But giving readers the full details of a case involving a senior mandarin that led to a Foreign Secretary quitting was important. The two other reporters bylined, Charles Hymas and Dominic Penna, helped cover the investigator’s report rather than the piece’s exclusive elements. The third article is one of many political long-reads written by the reporter this year. It published new details about the probe into whether Mr Johnson misled MPs over partygate. It revealed fears of whistleblowers over losing their anonymity, important claims made in their submissions, and counter-arguments put in by Mr Johnson. The probe would eventually conclude Mr Johnson did mislead MPs, ending his parliamentary career.