Susie Coen

Daily Mail

In a string of courageous undercover operations, Susie Coen changed public policy and prompted MPs to urgently attempt to reform the law.

Her bombshell probe into smart motorways revealed a litany of failures putting lives at risk. She carried out weeks of gruelling undercover work to get to the bottom of one of Britain’s biggest issues as part of a six-month investigation into the lethal roads.

At least 18 smart motorway deaths were thought to have been at least partially caused by the removal of the hard shoulder. Four coroners flagged the roads as a threat to life.

But the Government and National Highways pressed on with the cost-cutting scheme, claiming smart motorways were ‘as safe or safer than’ conventional roads. This was at odds with accounts of traffic officers who raised safety concerns. There was undeniable public interest in finding out if these safety claims were true.

Using subterfuge, Susie applied for a National Highways. After several interviews and a medical exam, she spent six weeks at the organisation’s South Mimm’s branch – the paper’s longest undercover stint.

She witnessed terrifying chaos as safety systems and crucial technology continuously ground to a halt. With access to every CCTV camera on the network, she discovered more than one in 10 were broken - a fact later confirmed by an inquiry.

Fatal accidents - including a crash which left four people dead – were not recorded. Expensive radar technology supposed to detect breakdowns within 20 seconds was not fit for purpose and workers feared for motorists’ lives. The investigation – which ran for three days in print and included a video online - set the news agenda. It was followed up by broadcasters including Today programme, LBC, Sky News and was picked up by broadsheets.

The Prime Minister ordered an urgent investigation into Susie’s findings and the Transport Select Committee drew on them in its scathing report. Announcing a policy U-turn three months later, former Transport Secretary Grant Shapps praised the probe saying the Mail deserved ‘huge credit for backing up’ safety concerns and the investigation would ‘undoubtedly’ save lives.

In her daring ‘sex for rent’ undercover expose, Susie revealed how tens of thousands of women were being exploited by vile landlords. She met with predators taking advantage of young women by advertising for 'free' lodging, in exchange for taking part in sexual acts - a criminal offence under the Sexual Offences Act. To gain the trust of the men, she had to send photographs of herself, endure disgusting comments about their sexual desires and answer questions about her body. She unearthed figures showing an estimated 30,000 female private renters being offered 'sex for rent' arrangements during the height of the pandemic.

The widely followed report prompted a police investigation into one of the landlords exposed by the Mail. Five Labour front benchers wrote to the Ministry of Justice demanding action and shadow minister Peter Kyle tabled amendments to the policing Bill to target rogue landlords.