Bar Council Announces Danny Shaw, Owen Bowcott and Maya Wolfe-Robinson as 2012 Legal Reporting Awards Winners

10 November 2012

The Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, today announces the winners of this year's Legal Reporting Awards. Danny Shaw, Home Affairs News Correspondent for BBC News, and Owen Bowcott, jointly with Maya Wolfe-Robinson, both Legal Affairs reporters for The Guardian, are the winners of this year's broadcast and written categories respectively. They will be presented with their awards by the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve QC MP, at the Annual Bar Conference today (Saturday 10 November).

The Legal Reporting Awards, now in their 21st year, were established by the Bar Council to recognise print and broadcast journalists whose work contributes to improving public understanding and awareness of legal issues.

In the broadcast category, Danny Shaw, who wins the award for the third time, was chosen for his radio programme, "Sentencing: Crime and Punishment", which was broadcast in December 2011 on BBC Radio 5 Live, and featured an insightful and in-depth debate around sentencing laws. The judging panel was impressed by the programme's wide range of interviews, which were both informative and engaging, bringing the piece to life.

Clive Coleman receives a special mention for his television documentary on the Asil Nadir case, which spanned over three decades, and was only brought to a close on 22 August 2012, when Nadir was found guilty of ten counts of theft from Polly Peck in a landmark trial. The judges praised the volume of historical footage used, and commended the documentary for its accessibility to the viewing public. The piece was broadcast on 1 September 2012 on the BBC News.

Owen Bowcott and Maya Wolfe-Robinson are jointly awarded the prize in the written category for their article "Last Chances", on the death penalty in the Caribbean, published on 7 May 2012 in The Guardian. The piece examines the importance of the UK's legal system to its ex-colonies, discussing the abolition of the death penalty and the role of the Privy Council, which still retains its position as the final court of appeal for capital murder cases in various Caribbean countries. The article's powerful messages remind readers not only of sentencing policies abolished in the UK which other countries still exercise, but also of the importance of the UK's role internationally in ensuring that the right to a fair trial is applied in practice, and in promoting and enforcing the rule of law.

In the written category, Martin Bentham receives a special mention for an impressive piece of investigative journalism on confiscation orders and frozen assets, which ran in a number of editions of the London Evening Standard. Martin's forensic examination of the issue brought the story to the public's attention, and campaigned against public funds being used to defend very wealthy defendants whose assets have been frozen, against a background of severe cuts to legal aid.

Franny Rabkin also receives a special mention in the written category for two pieces which ran on 7 June in the Financial Times on the devastating financial realities that some members of the publicly-funded Bar are facing at a time of Government cuts to the legal aid budget and delays in payment. Franny was commended by the judges for producing a thought-provoking and meticulously researched piece which challenged popular stereotypes.

The judging panel comprised:

• Michael Todd QC, Chairman of the Bar
• Maura McGowan QC, Vice-Chairman of the Bar, and
• Claire Ruckin, 2010 Legal Reporting Awards winner, and Reuters correspondent (judging in a personal capacity).

Michael Todd QC said:

"The Legal Reporting Awards always attract a very high quality of entries for both written and broadcast categories, and this year was no different. We are delighted to celebrate the awards' 21st anniversary with such outstanding winners.

"The calibre of legal reporting in the UK is exceptionally high, which makes our job as judges very difficult. Nevertheless, the 2012 winners all stood out as having tackled incredibly interesting and important topics in an accessible manner, enabling lay audiences to understand and engage with legal issues.

"It is our pleasure to recognise Danny, Owen and Maya by awarding them with this year's prizes."


Notes to editors:

1. Further information is available from the  Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525 or .

2. Previous winners:


1991 Joshua Rozenberg
1992 Jon Silverman
1993-4 Marcel Berlins
1994-5 Jon Silverman
1995-6 Marcel Berlins
1996-7 BBC Current Affairs
1997-8 Kent Barker
1998-9 Mark Whitaker
1999-00 Joshua Rozenberg - Special Award
2000-01 Jon Silverman
2001-02 Jon Silverman
2002-03 Above the title productions Ltd
2003-04 Mark Easton & Channel 4 News
2004-05 Channel 4 News
2005-06 More4 News
2006-7 Danny Shaw, BBC
2007-8 Clive Coleman, BBC
2008-9 Joshua Rozenberg, BBC
2009-10 Laurie Taylor and Charlie Taylor, BBC
2010-11 Lucy Bailey and Laura Lynch, BBC
2011-12 Danny Shaw, BBC


1991 John Carvel
1992 Duncan Campbell
1993-4 Frances Gibb
1994-5 Stephen Ward
1995-6 Roger Smith
1996-7 Clare Dyer
1997-8 Danny Shaw
1998-9 Linda Tsang
1999-00 Jean Eaglesham
2000-01 Joshua Rozenberg
2001-02 Robert Verkaik
2002-03 Grania Langdon-Down
2003-04 Mary Riddell
2004-05 Jon Robins
2005-06 Frances Gibb
2006-7 Mary Riddell
2007-8 James Lewis
2008-9 Jonathan Rayner
2009-10 Claire Ruckin
2010-11 Caroline Binham
2011-12 Owen Bowcott and Maya Wolfe-Robinson

3. The  Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales. It promotes:

• The Bar's high quality specialist advocacy and advisory services
• Fair access to justice for all
• The highest standards of ethics, equality and diversity across the profession, and
• The development of business opportunities for barristers at home and abroad.

The General Council of the Bar is the Approved Regulator of the Bar of England and Wales. It discharges its regulatory functions through the independent  Bar Standards Board.