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Archant’s investigations unit shortlisted for prestigious Amnesty Media Award

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Archant’s investigations unit, and its reporter Emma Youle, have been shortlisted for a prestigious Amnesty Media Award for its investigation into the treatment of victims of the NHS contaminated blood scandal.

The unit, formed in April this year, is on the shortlist for the Nations and Region category alongside BBC Northern Ireland and the Daily Record.

The awards recognise excellence in human rights reporting and winners will be announced at a ceremony in London’s Barbican centre on November 26.

Archant’s series of articles on contaminated blood highlighted the plight of 7,000 people who were infected with HIV and hepatitis C by the NHS – their health stolen by the very people who should have protected it.

Emma said: “This was a disaster of equal scale to the thalidomide scandal or Hillsborough in its devastating impact, the 15th largest peace-time disaster in British history.

“More than 2,000 people have so far lost their lives to the deadly viruses they were infected with.

Yet three decades on there has been no public inquiry, no proper system of compensation, no answers for victims.”

“We felt there was compelling public interest in telling the story of their long fight for justice and this nomination is a testament to the bravery and courage of those who spoke out.”

The shortlisted articles in the Ham&High, the Newham Recorder, the Barking and Dagenham Post and the Brent and Kilburn Times were published in June and July this year, alongside Archant titles in Norwich, Suffolk, Herts, Cambs and Kent, and featured locals who had been affected.

One was Nick Hirsch, dead at 36 from hep C. Nick was the nephew of former local MP and government minister Lynne Featherstone, yet his story had never been reported. His mother spoke for the first time in an exclusive interview. Another was Angela Farrugia who lost three brothers to HIV and hep C from tainted blood.

Investigations editor David Powles said: “Emma did a fantastic job on this subject and we hopefully made many more people aware of the ongoing plight of sufferers. I’m really proud that she’s been shortlisted and it is richly deserved.”

Amnesty International received well over 200 entries across 10 categories for this year’s awards.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said: “The pivotal role of the UK media industry in informing and shaping public opinion is something that Amnesty recognises and values. It is vital, and often dangerous, work that we pay tribute to through our annual Media Awards.”

© Archant Ltd 2013