The phone hacking scandal, MPs seeking cash for influence and the detention of asylum seekers' children are just some of the shortlisted entries for this year's Paul Foot Award.

The award, which was set up by Private Eye and the Guardian in memory of campaigning journalist Paul Foot who died in 2004, recognises the year's best examples of investigative journalism.

The overall winner will receive £5,000 in a ceremony on 2 November and each runner-up will be awarded £1,000. Last year's prize was won by Ian Cobain for his investigation into Britain's involvement in the torture of terror suspects detained overseas for the Guardian.

"It is always a cheering experience, giving the lie to any impression that investigative journalism is no longer so important to contemporary editors as it was," judges chairman Brian MacArthur says in the Guardian's Media section today.

"One pleasure is the unexpected entries: it isn't only the big beasts who impress. There was a creditable entry from Horse and Hound on equine cruelty, for instance; another from John Hoyte's website exposing the threat to airline passengers from aerotoxic fumes; and investigative reporters still flourish on regional evenings and weeklies."

The six shortlisted entries as announced by Private Eye are below:
  • Jonathan Calvert and Clare Newell (Sunday Times) - on MPs and peers seeking cash for influence
  • David Cohen (Evening Standard) - on the plight of the poor in London
  • Nick Davies (Guardian) - on phone-hacking conducted by the News of the World
  • Linda Geddes (New Scientist) - on evidence that DNA tests are not always accurately interpreted
  • Eamonn McCann (Irish Times, Belfast Newsletter, Guardian) - on the cover-up of the British army's actions on Bloody Sunday
  • Clare Sambrook (numerous publications) - on the detention of asylum seekers' children
Highly commended entries from the longlist include Andrew Gilligan (Sunday Telegraph) on the fundamentalist infiltration of Tower Hamlets and Nina Lakhani (Independent on Sunday) on the fate of NHS whistleblowers.

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