Bar Council announces legal reporting awards

10 November 2014

A trio of reporters writing for the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Maeve McClenaghan, Melanie McFadyean, and Rachel Stevenson, are winners of this year's Legal Reporting Awards written category, whilst the BBC's Zoe Conway wins in broadcast. They were presented their awards by Rt Hon Sir Alan Moses, retired Court of Appeal judge and first chair of the Independent Press Standards Organisation, at the Annual Bar Conference on 8 November.

The Legal Reporting Awards, now in their 23nd year, were established by the Bar Council to recognise print and broadcast journalists whose work contributes to a greater public understanding and awareness of legal issues.

Zoe Conway was chosen in the broadcast category for her Newsnight report on Imprisonment for Public Protection sentences which hold prisoners in jail indeterminately until a parole board judges they no longer pose a risk. Zoe highlighted examples of prisoners sentenced to less than two years, but who have ended up serving nearly ten. Although abolished in 2012, there are still 5,500 prisoners serving IPP sentences and it will take an estimated 9 years to clear the backlog. Former Home Secretary David Blunkett, who introduced the IPPs said on the programme: "I'd say that this is an injustice. We certainly got the implementation wrong."

Maeve McClenaghan, Melanie McFadyean, and Rachel Stevenson's report on the legal doctrine of joint enterprise in murder trials was the result of an 8 month investigation and highlighted for the first time the number of people serving very long sentences for being associated with other individuals and gangs who committed murder. The report pulled together ground-breaking research to make a compelling case for a review of the law, quoting Lord Philips, former Lord Chief Justice as saying joint enterprise is "capable of producing injustice".

Guardian reporter Emma Howard received a Highly Commended award from the judges, for her special report,'Legal aid cuts: The forgotten pillar of the welfare state'which used in depth case studies and interviews to show how legal aid cuts have left both vulnerable and otherwise robust individuals devastated by life events and circumstances beyond their control because they have no recourse to law.

The judging panel comprised:

  • Nicholas Lavender QC, Chairman of the Bar
  • Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC, Vice Chairman-elect
  • James Dean, Times journalist

Chairman of the Bar Council, Nicholas Lavender QC said:

"Judging the entries to the Legal Reporting Awards was both a challenge and a privilege. The entries demonstrated that legal journalism in the UK is of an exceptionally high standard, particularly in the case of the winners, who have unearthed and investigated stories of genuine public interest, and then told those stories in ways which educate and inform us about important legal issues, challenging us to look and think again and inspiring us to take action."



Notes to Editors

1. The broadcast category entry from Newsnight's Zoe Conway was produced by James Clayton.

2. Further information is available from the Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525 and

3. List of 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

2012-13 Brian King, Above the Title



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

2012-13 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