Tony Levene is crowned con­sumer cham­pion of the year

The Jewish Chronicle - - PEOPLE -

THE GUARDIAN’S Tony Levene has been named con­sumer cham­pion of the year for his cam­paign­ing jour­nal­ism.

Mr Levene, 61, has spent eight years fight­ing for con­sumer rights as a reg­u­lar colum­nist in the news­pa­per’s Money sec­tion, where he re­sponds to read­ers’ con­cerns. He has taken up the cud­gels on is­sues in­clud­ing cam­paign­ing against the banks’ mis-sell­ing of per­sonal pro­tec­tion in­sur­ance. “I be­lieve in help­ing out the un­der­dog,” Mr Levene, 61, tells Peo­ple. “Com­pa­nies should treat cus­tomers bet- ter. What news­pa­pers can do is add a bit of bal­ance in to what is of­ten and un­even play­ing field.”

Mr Levene, who re­ceives around 100 emails or let­ters a week, says some of the sad­dest cases are those that in­volve men­tal-health is­sues and when banks lend to peo­ple un­able to cope with the re­spon­si­bil­ity. He re­calls: “NatWest lent £6,000 to an 18-year-old sin­gle mother, who was on ben­e­fits, so she could have a nose-job. How can some­one like this re­pay that?” He says the most com­mon com­plaints are about wrong billings from tele­phone com­pa­nies and notes that el­derly peo­ple are par­tic­u­lar tar­gets for phoney lot­tery let­ters

and scams.

How does he cam­paign so ef­fec­tively? “Two of my favourite lines to or­gan­i­sa­tions are: ‘Would you like your granny to be treated like this?’ And ‘would John Lewis treat cus­tomers like this?’”

A fi­nan­cial jour­nal­ist for more than 30 years, Mr Levene, who has worked at The Sun­day Times, Daily Ex­press and The Sun, picked up the ac­co­lade at a cer­e­mony held at the Hil­ton, Park Lane. “It’s a nice award as it’s voted on by PR peo­ple and some of them can be quite de­fen­sive.” He lives in Har­row.

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