Rangers FC

Rangers players at the end of game at the Ibrox Stadium earlier this month

Credit: by Craig Halkett/PA Wire/Press Association Images
A blog reporting on the financial crisis at Rangers football club has been awarded an Orwell prize for quality investigative journalism.

Rangers Tax-Case won the blog prize at last night's ceremony and was praised by judges for showing "independent blogging is as healthy as it ever was" and that "not only could blogs comment on current events, they could drive stories forward".

The blog, which has reported thoroughly on the financial scandal engulfing one of the largest football clubs in Britain, was born out of "frustration" at the Scottish media's lack of coverage .

The judges added: "Rangers Tax-Case takes what might be a dry topic - the tax affairs of a sports team - and shows how a striving for transitory success has severely distorted sporting, legal and ethical boundaries.

"Displaying focused contempt for those who evade difficult truths, and beating almost every Scottish football journalist to the real story, Rangers Tax-Case shows how expertise and incisive writing can expose the hypocrisies the powerful use to protect themselves from the consequences of their actions.

"It is a worthy winner which not only proves that independent blogging is as healthy as it ever was, but also offers a mirror in which our times are reflected."

The site's author said in a statement read out at the awards: "Winning the Orwell Blog Prize is both a tremendous surprise and a great honour. The quality of writing from the other short-listed candidates was just so high that I did not really think that my blog stood much of a chance.

"That Rangers Tax-Case would win a prize named for George Orwell is particularly apt. Orwell created the lexicon for fighting back against the interests of powerful individuals and a co-opted media.

"Over the last decade, prominence and wealth were able to silence the story of what was really happening within Rangers FC. The story of how a single businessman could bend the banking, football, and newspaper businesses in a small country to his will is a microcosm of the dangers lurking within all free societies.

"The blog answered a need for the facts when it was obvious that the Scottish media had no interest in taking on the vested interests who wanted this story kept under wraps.

"I would like to thank all of those people who have contributed to the debates on the blog and I am especially grateful to those brave individuals who have made it possible for me to tell the truth about this story."

This year's Orwell prize for journalism was awarded to the Guardian's Amelia Gentleman. Judges said her pieces "consistently explore the most difficult places in our society: the Britain of benefit fraudsters, benefit dependents, the carers of our elderly, and institutions for young criminals. It is an unsparing gaze yet she is always delicate and respectful of the individuals within these - often malign - systems."

They added: "Amelia Gentleman's beautifully crafted examinations of hardship, welfare and justice for the Guardian bring us almost painfully close to subjects that are too often ignored, and they do so with cool, sharp powers of observation."

The late writer and commentator Christopher Hitchens, who died last year at the age of 62, was also honoured at this year's ceremony for "shaping political writing and thinking for a generation".

Orwell prize director Jean Seaton said in a release: "Hitchens carried Orwell's ambition 'to make political writing into an art' forward and made it his own: he crafted a literate politics that helped form a world view."

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