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John Simpson-Foreign Affairs Journalist


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Born in 1944 and educated at St Paul’s School and Magdalene College, Cambridge, he joined the BBC in 1966 and has stayed there ever since.

From 1969-75, he became thoroughly involved in the troubles over in Northern Ireland, and later became a foreign correspondent in Dublin, Brussels and Johannesburg. He covered the Iranian revolution from start to finish in 1978/9, flying with Ayatollah Khomeini to Tehran on his triumphant return. He covered the Falklands War from Latin America, and was in Buenos Aires to watch the fall of the Argentine junta.

He has reported from 140 countries and interviewed around 200 world leaders, including Mikhail Gorbachev and Vladimir Putin, Margaret Thatcher and every other British prime minister since Harold Wilson, every German Chancellor since Willy Brandt and every French President since Giscard d’Estaing. Among others he has interviewed Mrs Gandhi, Emperor Bokassa, Colonel Gadaffi, Bashir al-Asad, Nelson Mandela, and Robert Mugabe. He has covered forty-six wars on four continents, not to mention the trial and execution of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and of Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania.

John’s life has hung in the balance on more than one occasion. Ordered to kneel in the road at gunpoint by a Palestinian soldier; dodging bullets in Tiananmen Square, and standing a few yards away from the detonation of a ‘friendly fire’ anti-tank bomb in Iraq where he witnessed the death of his translator, John is no stranger to real fear.

John has received most of the broadcasting industry’s main awards, including RTS journalist of the year (twice), three BAFTAs, an Emmy, Monte-Carlo TV Festival’s Golden Nymph, and the Bayeux award for war reporting. He is an honorary fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge, a freeman of the City of London, and president of The Chelsea Society. In 1991 he was awarded a CBE.

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