A JOURNALIST whose investigation into a bogus psychiatrist made headlines around the world has been crowned a champion of Carlisle.

Phil Coleman, chief reporter of the News & Star, was handed a judges special award at the 2019 Carlisle Living Awards last night.

The audience heard how his hunch that all was not as it seemed with convicted fraudster Zholia Alemi - who was practising as a psychiatrist - unearthed the fact that she had never qualified as a doctor.

Alemi had come to work in the UK from New Zealand.

The revelation that she had duped authorities into thinking she was a properly qualified medic led to the General Medical Council checking the records of thousands of doctors working in the UK.

His investigation was picked up by news outlets around the world, has triggered a fresh police investigation and saw Phil lift the scoop of the year title at the Regional Press Awards in May.

Further recognition of his achievements came in front of a hundreds-strong audience at The Halston in Carlisle city centre last night.

Co-host David McNeill said: “With more than 25 years experience as a print journalist this person still loves the job.

“He has a prolific talent with a moral compass and un-err-ing curiosity. He is the winner of national and regional awards for work including investigations sparked by ordinary people in need of help, local politics, court cases and many, many exclusives.

“He was also the only regional newspaper journalist to make the shortlist for the Private Eye Paul Foot Award 2019 for investigative journalism.

“This quiet and unassuming man gets to the heart of stories while always retaining his integrity and reputation.”

A judges’ special award also went to former Carlisle City Council leader Colin Glover, described as a “truly devoted champion of Carlisle”.

Co-host Fiona Armstrong described him as a real cheerleader for the city and a visionary in the Borderlands scheme to secure once-in-a-lifetime investments.

Among the other winners were the city council’s arts officer, Stephen Dunn, who has spearheaded the creation of the Old Fire Station Arts Centre.

David said: “Our winner is a walking, talking champion of Carlisle culture. He has shaped what arts venues look like and has led the way with its recent cultural revolution.”

Awards were also presented for the likes of best bar, best restaurant and for forward-thinking innovation.