TO me this means more than any press award I have won, any degree I have worked for and more than any story or book I have ever published.
It is simply a Motion in the House of Commons signed jointly by five of my political heroes.
It stays with me and now as the Blairite knives are turned on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, it becomes even more precious.
It goes back 22 years to when I was working as an unknown reporter on a weekly local newspaper in south west Scotland.
A year earlier in 1993 I began investigating a report into high levels of radiation in the local waters of the Solway Firth.
This in turn led to a huge investigation into the test firing of depleted uranium (DU) artillery shells (the same used by Allied forces in both Gulf Wars) at a nearby MoD proving ground and a link with local clusters of childhood cancer.
The full story can be read here: Suppression of the Truth: Depleted Uranium – The Deadly Killer.
Then suddenly, and without any warning, in the late Spring of 1994 I was given two press awards for my newspaper investigations – the first was a Judges’ Special Award for Investigative Journalism.
I was gobsmacked!
But a second shock was in store… I was informed that 41 MPs had signed an Early Day Motion (EDM) in the House of Commons praising my investigation (and that of a dear and late colleague at the Sunday Mail) into the link between DU shell firing and the serious risks to health – including cancer.
The EDM read: “That this House congratulates Nic Outterside, chief reporter of the Galloway Gazette, for his special award of the year ‘for his investigative journalism and individual tenacity’, and Angus Macleod of the Sunday Mail, for his ‘talent for disclosing stories in an aggressive and attacking writing style’ in winning the journalist and reporter of the year award in the Scottish Press Awards made on 26th April; notes that both reporters revealed the hidden dangers of depleted uranium shell tests at Ministry of Defence test ranges, and unveiled the links between vapourised depleted uranium dust and the Gulf War or Desert Storm syndrome; believes these Scottish reporters have properly publicised a problem of national and international importance as recognised by investigations in the United States Congress and the United Nations Compensation Committee; and reiterates its call for an urgent public inquiry.”
Some of my all-time political heroes signed that EDM: the late and great Tony Benn MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, the much missed Alan Simpson MP, Ken Livingstone MP and the Beast of Bolsover Dennis Skinner MP.
These names next to mine remain a personal badge of honour. Now 22 years on, they are a vindication of our shared hatred of warfare, nuclear weapons and the military establishment.