Standard's Tristan Kirk wins award for secret justice investigations

Tristan Kirk with Private Eye editor Ian Hislop (Philippa Gedge)
Tristan Kirk with Private Eye editor Ian Hislop (Philippa Gedge)

The Standard’s courts correspondent Tristan Kirk has won a top journalism award for his investigation into the flaws of the single justice procedure.

Kirk won this year’s Paul Foot Award for Campaigning and Investigative Journalism for his reporting on the procedure, dubbed “conveyor belt justice”.

He was presented with the award by Private Eye editor Ian Hislop at a ceremony in London on Tuesday evening.

The secretive court process allows magistrates to hand out convictions for low-level crimes behind closed doors, while freed from the usual scrutiny that comes with open court proceedings.

Kirk’s reporting has exposed the practice of dementia patients and care home residents being criminalised over unpaid car bills, as well as secretive fast-track hearings where vulnerable and mentally ill people are accused of not paying their TV licence.

It has also exposed unlawful convictions against children, which were then overturned.

Magistrates themselves accept that the system is broken and in need of reform, while Lord Chancellor Alex Chalk has promised changes.

The award was set up by The Guardian and Private Eye in memory of the journalist Paul Foot, who died in 2004.

Pádraig Reidy, Chair of Judges at the Private Eye Paul Foot Award, said: “With a record number of entries in this year’s Paul Foot Award, choosing a shortlist and a winner was an immense challenge. The judging panel was pleased to reward journalism in the very best tradition of Paul Foot’s work - compelling stories that revealed systemic exploitation, abuse and injustice."

Mr Hislop said: “Justice is NOT being done but thanks to Tristan Kirk it is being seen NOT to be done!”