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Jihadi investigation wins first Sandford journalism award

14 June 2019


Mobeen Azhar

Mobeen Azhar

A BBC radio programme, The Dawn of British Jihad, has won the first ever Sandford St Martin Journalism Award.

For the programme, made for BBC Radio 4, the presenter Mobeen Azhar met British Muslims involved in jihad before 9/11, investigating their motivation and methods of recruitment.

The award was presented at the annual Sandford St Martin Trust Awards, for the best programmes about religion, ethics and spirituality, at a ceremony at Lambeth Palace on Thursday evening.

Helen Boaden, a former director of BBC News, who chaired the Journalism Award judges, said: “Journalism and religion, in this country at least, are not natural bed-fellows. Our winners demonstrated not just great investigative skill but insight and confidence with the religious aspects of their stories.

The Dawn of British Jihad was austere in tone but packed a punch. It was the detail — all independently verified by the journalists — which gripped. It was fascinating, informative and at times, unexpectedly moving.”

SANDFORD ST MARTINPatrick Kielty in the documentary My Dad, The Peace Deal and Me

The top prize-winner in the TV/video category was My Dad, The Peace Deal and Me made for BBC1, a programme by the comedian Patrick Kielty, whose father was killed by paramilitary gunmen during the Troubles (TV, 13 April 2018). It explored how the peace process is developing in Northern Ireland.

James Harding, the founder and editor of Tortoise Media, and a former editor of The Times, described it as “an engaging story, which is both a meditation on grief and a call for reconciliation and forgiveness.

“The story shines a light on people’s wounds, and how these have shaped their lives.”


BBC Radio 4 was well represented in the awards. The top two journalism contenders were Radio 4 programmes, as were the winner and runner-up of the radio/audio awards: Doorstep Daughter, the story of how a Christian and a Muslim family raised a baby together in Watford in the 1990s, and The Silence of the Lamb.

The judges, chaired by Dame Frances Cairncross, praised the production and honest storytelling of Doorstep Daughter.

The Radio Times Readers’ Award was given to A Vicar’s Life, an observational documentary series on BBC 2 which following the lives and work of clergy in the Hereford diocese (TV, 26 January 2018).

The 2019 Trustees’ Award was presented to the Most Revd Michael Curry, the US Presiding Bishop, in recognition of the media impact of his sermon at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

The writer and broadcaster Trevor Philips, said: “On the day of the royal wedding, Bishop Curry gave one of the most breathtaking cameo roles ever seen on TV, and left an indelible inscription on the memory of the two billion or so who witnessed it.”

SANDFORD ST MARTINJonathan Bryan in My Life — Locked in Boy

My Life — Locked in Boy, the story of Jonathan Bryan, a 13-year-old paralysed boy who found faith, won the Children’s Award (Features, 13 April 2018). It was broadcast on CBBC.

The award’s chair of judges, Mim Shaikh, a Radio 1Xtra presenter, actor and spoken-word artist said: “It totally challenged me to look at the way I see people with disabilities.”

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