Charles Thompson has made significant progress in his ongoing investigation, surrounding child abuse, thanks to the prize money he received from winning the Ray Fitzwalter Award in April.

Thomson has spent the last four years investigating historic child sex abuse allegations in Essex. This week he has exclusively uncovered a link between the Shoebury sex ring and the paedophile gang behind the killing of three children, including Jason Swift. His work was helped by the £4,000 grant that Thomson received from the Ray Fitzwalter award.

The award was created in memory of investigative journalist, Ray Fitzwalter. It was introduced with the main aim being to recognise outstanding investigative journalism outside of London. It has been funded by a range of organisations that Fitzwalter made a positive impact upon during his career. These include Salford University, Channel 4, ITV and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

Thomson, chief reporter at the Basildon-based Yellow Advertiser, tells Salford Now why awards like this are so important: “being an investigative journalist is not a career that you go in to because you want to be rich. To be giving out grants, like the Ray Fitzwalter Award did, is fantastically helpful because it helps us to complete our work and people don’t realise how expensive it is.”

Judges of the award included ITV’s Tom Giles, Channel 4’s Dorothy Byrne and Salford University lecturer of journalism, Andrew Fletcher. Mr Fletcher is happy to see how the grant has helped journalists: “It’s great to see that he’s now continuing his work and using some of the prize money to report things and reveal things, which otherwise would have stayed out of the public domain.”


Journalist Charles Thomson and judge Andrew Fletcher talk about why the Ray Fitzwalter award is important:


Thomson spent some of the money on research and record checks. “Another thing we did was we organised a reunion of professionals that were connected to the original case- the child protection workers, local charities and the health authority. We got them back in a room together which threw up lots of information that they all reminded each other of.”

The recent breakthrough occurred after a new witness came forward. The latest installments in the long running investigation are four exclusive stories, which have been published in the Yellow Advertiser this week.

Fletcher is anticipating more accomplishments from the award after the success it has had in its first year. “We’ll shortly be launching the award again for 2019 and we’re hoping that there will be even more examples of investigative journalism from young reporters in TV radio and newspapers and online. We’ll hopefully get some more great examples of things that are being uncovered and discovered from young investigative journalists.”

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