HERALD financial writer Simon Bain made history yesterday when he jointly won the coveted title of Journalist of the Year with Ian Bell of the Scotsman at the Bank of Scotland Press Awards.

At a ceremony in Glasgow, hosted by television presenter Kaye Adams and attended by representatives of Scotland's press, he also scooped the title of Financial/Business Writer of the Year.

Herald Literary Editor Alexander Linklater shook off fierce competition to be awarded the title of Arts Writer of The Year.

Herald writers Marian Pallister and Ruth Wishart were runners-up in the Campaigning Journalist and Political Journalist of the Year sections respectively. More than 300 people entered 16 categories in the awards, and there were 72 nominations on the short-list.

The millennium event was a particularly moving occasion for Lord McCluskey, who is retiring after 18 years as chairman of the awards judging panel.

Herald Editor Harry Reid, a judge in this year's awards, presented Lord McCluskey with an oil painting to thank him for his years of dedication.

Mr Reid said: ''It is a genuine privilege for me, on behalf of the editors' committee of the Scottish Daily Newspaper Society, to thank John McCluskey for his unstinting support of the Bank of Scotland Press Awards over a period of more than 18 years.

''While the turnover of editors is reaching almost farcical proportions, on the other hand, and at the risk of being slightly controversial, I could say that the turnover of High Court judges has not been high enough. It is not easy to ease out a bad judge, and there have been one or two, but I hasten to add that the man we are honouring is most emphatically not a bad judge.

''On the contrary, Lord McCluskey has been a superb judge and in the future we could do with a few more like him. His judicial career has been a shining example.''

MP Menzies Campbell highlighted the importance of freedom of the press while stressing that the media should not abuse that freedom.

Simon Bain's entry for the Business Writer section, focusing on high fuel prices on rural Scotland, inspired the judging panel to comment of his work: ''This was a brave and excellent piece of investigative journalism, exposing the practises of a global company in dealing with the important issue of the pricing policies of fuel in the Highlands.''

Mr Bain and Mr Bell were commended for ''vitally important features of good journalism: the capacity to dig deep and investigate the facts which Simon Bain exhibited so well, and the capacity to stand back and explain them in a wide context, which Ian Bell does so convincingly''.

Alexander Linklater, who was awarded the title of Arts Writer of The Year, also impressed the judges who said of his entry: ''Literate and moving piece about the photography of Don McCullin and the impact of his work upon his life.''

Also honoured yesterday was John Gibson, who won the Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his 50 years' continuous service at the Edinburgh Evening News.

The winners are

Journalist Of The Year:

Simon Bain, The Herald, and

Ian Bell, Scotsman.

Scoop Of The Year:

Dean Nelson, Observer.

Reporter Of The Year:

Anna Smith, Daily Record.

Journalist Team Of The Year:

Alison Dunsmore and

Liam McDougall, Big Issue

in Scotland.

Feature Writer Of The Year:

Allan Brown, Sunday Times


Columnist Of The Year:

Ian Bell, Scotsman.

Campaigning Journalist Of

The Year: Allan Caldwell,

Evening Times. (Runner-up: Marian Pallister, The Herald).

Financial/Business Writer Of

The Year: Simon Bain, The Herald.

Political Journalist Of The

Year: Iain Macwhirter, Sunday Herald. (Runner-up: Ruth Wishart, The Herald).

Sports Journalist Of The Year:

Glenn Gibbons, Scotsman.

Arts/Entertainment Writer Of

The Year: Alexander Linklater,

The Herald.

Cartoonist Of The Year:

Steven Camley, Sunday Herald.

Anthony Finlay Award For

The Young Journalist Of The

Year: Laura Collins, Scottish

Daily Mail.

Weekly Newspaper Journalist

Of The Year: Alex Dowdalls,

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser.

The Erskine Hospital David

Boyle Memorial Award:

Nicola Barry, Press & Journal.

Sgriobhadh Gaidhlig:

Alick O'Henley, Scotsman.

The Lifetime Achievement

Award was won by

John Gibson in recognition

of 50 years' continuous

service at the Edinburgh

Evening News