November 17 2016
"A voice you can trust"

Doctorate follows media prizes for Brian Deer's investigations


Journalism doctor: Brian Deer becomes D Litt Hon, and addresses new graduates of York St John University

In a magnificant ceremony at England's 13th-century York Minster, on November 17 2016 Brian Deer was admitted Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) and invited to address new university graduates (video above).

The award - presented by the Most Reverend Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York and Chancellor of York St John University - was granted in recognition of what Deer's degree citation called his "impact on society through his outstanding investigative journalism".

Professor Alyson Tobin, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, told the assembly, gathered in northern Europe's biggest gothic cathedral, of what she called the journalist's "commitment to truth and his capacity to persist against a very hostile tide of opposition".

"Brian can reflect on a career that is characterised by persistence, determination and a willingness to hold the powerful to account," she read from the four-page citation. "There is something outstanding about a voice you can trust."

Deer's doctorate came five years after he was honoured with the ultimate accolade from his professional peers - for the second time in his career - at the annual British Press Awards. Introduced by Sky News anchor Anna Botting at a gala dinner at the Savoy hotel, London, on April 5 2011 (video below) Deer was named specialist journalist of the year in recognition of

British Press Awards 2011: Brian Deer is named the UK's specialist reporter of the year for the second time

his landmark Sunday Times exposure of a now-notorious medical research fraud by disgraced British ex-doctor Andrew Wakefield.

The Press Awards' judging panel, appointed by the Society of Editors, said that Deer had shown "outstanding perseverance, stamina and revelation on a story of major importance". Its citation said of his investigation that: "It was a tremendous righting of a wrong."

Press Awards are the most coveted honours in UK news media - often described as the "Oscars of British journalism" and compared with US Pulitzer Prizes. "Winning a British Press Award is justly seen as the crowning achievement of any journalist’s career - and just being shortlisted is to be set among the elite of the profession," says the magazine Press Gazette.

In addition to his 2011 win, Deer was also put forward by Sunday Times editor John Witherow and shortlisted by a separate judging panel for the award in the category of news reporter of the year.

The specialist prize was the second Deer has received for his investigations. In 1999 judges said that he was probably "the only journalist in Britain that polices the drugs companies".

Other honours for Deer have included the annual Healthwatch Award, in October 2011, with the citation: "For his determined pursuit of truth". He was the 2009 Susan B Meister lecturer in child health policy at the University of Michigan, and the 2012 Distinguished Lecturer in Life Sciences at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse.

In 2007, his second documentary for the UK's Channel 4 network, "The Drug Trial That Went Wrong", was shortlisted for a Royal Television Society award.

Sunday Times report of Brian Deer's press award

Best of the year: How The Sunday Times reported Brian Deer's press award, on page 2, 10 April 2011
Press Award front pages
Impact investigation: Two of the front page exclusives honoured, from February 2004 and February 2009
Press Award pages
Inside stories: Two centrespread features, and, right, the General Medical Council result vindicating Deer

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