Twelve years after snagging this ultimate professional accolade for the first time, Brian Deer returns to the stage to collect his second British Press Award, presented at a gala dinner at the Savoy hotel, London, by the event's host, Sky News anchor Anna Botting. Deer was named specialist journalist of the year in recognition of his Sunday Times investigation into the Andrew Wakefield MMR-autism fraud.
The award's judging panel, appointed by the Society of Editors, said that Deer had shown "outstanding perseverence, 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 win, Deer was also put forward by Sunday Times editor John Witherow and shortlisted by a separate judging panel for the 2011 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".
The Society of Editors runs the awards in association with the Journalists' Charity and the Newspaper Publishers' Association. The society's president is Robin Esser of the Daily Mail.
The full list of British journalists winning individual awards was:
Young journalist of the year: Matt Sandy, Mail on Sunday
Business and finance journalist of the year: David Robertson, The Times
Political journalist of the year: Andrew Sparrow, The Guardian
Foreign reporter of the year: Charles Clover, Financial Times
Showbiz reporter of the year: Stephen Moyes, News of the World
Specialist journalist of the year: Brian Deer, The Sunday Times
Critic of the year: Caitlin Moran, The Times
Sports journalist of the year: James Lawton, The Independent
Interviewer of the year: Caitlin Moran, The Times
Feature writer of the year: Amelia Gentleman, The Guardian
Columnist of the year: Matthew Parris, The Times
News reporter of the year: Mazher Mahmood, News of the World