The Sunday Times journalist who uncovered last year’s Labour lobbying scandal has been poached by The Daily Telegraph to head up its investigations team.
Claire Newell conducted the March 2010 undercover sting which resulted in ex-ministers Stephen Byers, Geoff Hoon and Richard Caborn being stripped of their Commons passes.
She was also behind the cash for honours investigation which led to Tony Blair being questioned by the police and the recent FIFA cash-for-votes scandal.
PRWeek has learned that Newell will take a newly-created role overseeing investigations for the Daily Telegraph. In the new post, she is expected to work closely with deputy political editor Robert Winnett and senior reporter Holly Watt, both of whom played key roles on the MPs' expenses story.
Newell declined to comment, but well-placed sources confirmed that she would join the Telegraph later this year.
Newell’s resignation is a fresh blow for News International as it deals with the fall-out from the latest allegations of phone hacking, but a huge coup for the Daily Telegraph, which is keen to capitalise on its successful coverage of the MPs’ expenses scandal.
The Daily Telegraph recently won six awards at the British Press Awards, including the Scoop of the Year for its six-week expenses investigation.
Newell joined the Sunday Times in 2005. A key member of the Insight team, she has a number of scoops under her belt and was described by one senior public affairs operator as ‘the scourge of lobbyists’.
Newell infiltrated lobbying firm Golden Arrow in 2007 and claimed its staff were being provided with sensitive information by government ministers.
In 2009, she was involved in The Sunday Times’ ‘cash for amendments’ scoop, which found members of the House of Lords willing to make amendments to legislation in return for cash.
However Newell is best known by lobbyists for her undercover sting last year which caught former transport secretary Stephen Byers saying that he was ‘like a cab for hire’ and would ask for up to £5,000 a day to provide advisory services to companies.