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The Yorkshire Post receives praise

The Yorkshire Post has received praise for its investigative campaign as building societies agree to repay tens of millions of pounds to victims of investment scandal.

The Yorkshire Post receives praise
James Mitchinson: “Whilst he will be reluctant to take any credit at all for this incredible result, it should not be underestimated how significant a contribution Chris’ journalism has made on this occasion."

The Yorkshire Post says it has come in for praise for its year-long coverage of a multi-million-pound financial scandal, including from a chief executive of one of the building societies embroiled in that scandal.

More than 2,000 building society customers lost out on investments, life savings and properties totalling £138m to an unregulated finance firm, Philips Trust Corporation (PTC). Campaigners have since been fighting hard for justice, though many victims had given up hope of ever recovering their losses.

But the publisher says earlier this week, Leeds, Nottingham and Newcastle building societies all announced their intention to pay back their PTC victims in full - reiterating that they were under no obligation to do so, whilst expressing their desire to do the right thing - costing the mutuals tens of millions of pounds.

Richard Fearon, chief executive of Leeds Building society, has now acknowledged the work of The Yorkshire Post in leading to this result. He said: "Your coverage on this has been a great comfort to the people involved, knowing that you are giving it a thorough and fair hearing.”

Working alongside campaigners who are part of the Philips Trust Action Group, the Post’s Chris Burn - a winner in December at the British Journalism Awards, a national awards event, for his seven-year-long investigation into the Sheffield Trees scandal - shone a light on the devastating impact of the PTC fiasco.

John Ledgard, whose family home was lost to what has been described as an effective ponzi scheme and subsequently sold on for £180,000 without he or his family receiving a penny of the proceeds, said: “I can’t thank The Yorkshire Post enough for all the work. Just to see it in writing - they will reimburse the full amount! - was amazing.”

In an editorial yesterday, praising campaigners for their indefatigable efforts, The Yorkshire Post reiterated its repeated calls for police to investigate. It said: “This newspaper’s attempts to get building societies to listen has only been possible as a result of the persistence of campaigners. However, this is not the end to the matter. The police must commit to a full investigation into PTC.”

Editor James Mitchinson said: “More than anything, I am elated for those people who, through no fault of their own, lost so much - not least their faith in financial institutions and in the law. It is hard to imagine the joy and relief they must be feeling right now.

“One of the campaigners told us that this feels like a victory for the underdog, the ‘little man’ as he described it, and that feels right to me. Whilst he will be reluctant to take any credit at all for this incredible result, it should not be underestimated how significant a contribution Chris’ journalism has made on this occasion - a contribution only made possible by the brilliance of those campaigners.

“I hope now that justice will be done in the courts - a full police investigation is now a matter of urgency - and that we can close this campaign for good.”

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