The Refugee Council has said that novelist Hari Kunzru's refusal last week to accept a literary prize sponsored by the Mail on Sunday because of its hostility to asylum seekers could mark a turning point in how refugee issues are represented in the media.
Kunzru, one of Britain's most promising novelists, turned down the John Llewellyn Rhys award and asked that the £5,000 prize be donated to the Refugee Council.
He won the award for his debut novel, The Impressionist, which explores themes of race and identity.
In a statement read out at the ceremony, Kunzru explained why he couldn't accept the prize: "As the child of an immigrant, I am only too aware of the poisonous effect of the Mail's editorial line. The atmosphere of prejudice it fosters translates into violence. I have no wish to profit from it."
Imran Hussain, advocacy manager for the Refugee Council, said: "We welcome his recognition of the effect that the misrepresentation of asylum seekers is having on all sectors of our society".
See News in Focus, p12.