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Paul Foot

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Paul Foot addressing a miners' rally, June 1984
This article is about the journalist and campaigner. For the comedian, see Paul Foot (comedian).

Paul Mackintosh Foot (November 8, 1937 - July 18, 2004) was a British radical investigative journalist, political campaigner, author, and long-time member of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP).

Paul Foot was the son of Hugh Foot, later Lord Caradon, who was governor of Cyprus during the independence battle with Britain in the 1950s, and later represented the United Kingdom at the United Nations from 1964-1970. Paul Foot was the nephew of former leader of the Labour Party Michael Foot.

He was educated at Shrewsbury School and University College, Oxford. He first joined the International Socialists, organisational forerunner of the SWP, when he was a cub reporter in Glasgow in the early 1960s. He wrote for Socialist Worker throughout his career and was its editor in the late 1970's until 1980 when he moved to the Daily Mirror. He left the Mirror in 1993 when the paper refused to print articles critical of their management. Latterly he returned to Private Eye; he also wrote for The Guardian.

He fought the Birmingham Ladywood by-election in 1977 for the SWP and was a Socialist Alliance candidate for several offices from 2001 onwards. In the Hackney mayoral election in 2002 he came third, beating the Liberal Democrat candidate into fourth. He stood in the London region for the RESPECT coalition at the 2004 European elections.

He was Journalist of the Year in the What The Papers Say Awards in 1972 and 1989, Campaigning Journalist of the Year in the 1980 British Press Awards and won the George Orwell Prize for Journalism in 1994.

His best known work was in the form of campaign journalism, including his exposure of corrupt architect John Poulson and, most notably, his prominent role in the campaigns to overturn the convictions of the Birmingham Six and the Bridgewater Four, which succeeded in 1991 and 1997 respectively.

He also worked tirelessly, though without success, to gain a posthumous pardon for James Hanratty, who was hanged in 1962 for the A6 murder.

His books are Immigration and Race in British Politics (1965), The Politics of Harold Wilson (1968) The Rise of Enoch Powell (1969) Who Killed Hanratty? (1971) Red Shelley (1981) The Helen Smith Story (1983) Murder on the Farm, Who Killed Carl Bridgewater? (1986) Who Framed Colin Wallace? (1989) Words as Weapons (1990) Articles of Resistance (2000) and The Vote: How It Was Won, and How It Was Undermined (2005).

He died of a heart attack while waiting at Stansted Airport to begin a family holiday in Ireland. A special tribute issue of the Socialist Review magazine, of which he was on the editorial board for 19 years, collected together many of his articles. Private Eye issue 1116 included a tribute to Foot from the many people whom he worked with over the years.

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