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Northern Scot reporter in final six for prestigious investigative journalism award

By Jonny Clark

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A FORRES Gazette journalist’s investigative work has seen him shortlisted for a prestigious UK-wide award.

Lewis McBlane (25), who attended Forres Academy, has made the final six for Private Eye’s Paul Foot Awards 2024 for a three-part series on the dualling of the A96.

Lewis McBlane has been nominated in the Private Eye award for his A96 investigation.
Lewis McBlane has been nominated in the Private Eye award for his A96 investigation.

Published in February this year, Lewis revealed emails from 2020 which showed the scrapping of the pledge to dual the A96 by 2030 - despite the public having never been told.

He was initially longlisted for the award - before finding out at the end of May that he had made the shortlist.

Lewis will find out whether he has picked up the award, and a cheque for £8000 to be presented by editor Private Eye editor Ian Hislop, at an awards ceremony in London on Tuesday, June 11.

MORE: Forres Gazette journalist Lewis McBlane runner-up at Scottish Press Awards

In the build-up to the event, he was invited to be part of Private Eye’s mini-podcast series. In it, he explains the work put into uncovering the story - and explains the background and history of the dualling of the A96.

After his nomination, he said: “I was honestly floored when I saw the email saying the judges had picked my series.

“It’s brilliant to be listed alongside massive global titles and it’s to the credit of my editors Chris Saunderson and Joe Millican and the whole team.

“There’s no way the stories would have come together without them putting their trust in me and giving me the time I needed to go down the A96 dualling rabbit hole.

“Hopefully this will get more people thinking about the big issues affecting our area at the moment and shine a light on Moray.”

Lewis will be competing against journalists from well-respected publications from across the United Kingdom for the top prize - including Antonia Cundy of the Financial Times, Rebecca Thomas of The Independent and Tristan Kirk of the Evening Standard.

The award itself is named after campaigning journalist Paul Foot, who passed away in 2004, and is organised by fortnightly magazine Private Eye.

It aims to celebrate “the UK’s most brilliant, talented and determined journalists working in the fields of investigative and campaigning journalism today”.

Pádraig Reidy, chair of the judges, said: "The volume and quality of this year's entries made the shortlist selection difficult but enormously edifying for the judges.

“Knowing that there are so many reporters, both experienced and new to the trade, working so hard to uncover challenging stories should give us all faith that great journalism will always happen so long as there are people with the will, wit and tenacity to do it."

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