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Friday, 2 March, 2001, 16:02 GMT
Tributes flood in for Diamond
John Diamond with his wife Nigella
Sadly missed: John Diamond with his wife Nigella
The death of writer and broadcaster John Diamond has saddened friends and colleagues from the worlds of journalism, politics and health.

Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie had known the Diamond family for some time and had been visited by them at their country residence, Chequers.

In a statement, Mr Blair's official spokesman said: "The prime minister and Mrs Blair were saddened to hear the news of John's death.

"Their thoughts and prayers are with Nigella and the children, who have lost a much-loved husband and father.

Tony and Cherie Blair
Tony and Cherie Blair have said sent condolences
"His many friends will recall not just his humour but the extraordinary courage he showed as he fought his illness."

The editor of The Times, Peter Stothard, for whom Diamond wrote his famous column, said: "John Diamond brought all his skills as a journalist to report for The Times from the frontline of the cancer war.

"He shed unique light on a dark disease. That light will be John Diamond's greatest legacy."

Alan Yentob, the BBC Director of Television, described Diamond as "exceptional."

"He was funny, warm and brilliant. He was passionate about radio in particular and before the cancer performed regularly and with great panache.

"He made a brave decision in allowing BBC cameras to follow him for a year after his initial diagnoses but it meant that the story of his battle with cancer could be shared with millions of viewers and hopefully be of help to some.

Dominic Lawson
Dominic Lawson: " He never failed to turn out immaculate copy"
"We had been planning with John a drama of his story, A Lump in My Throat, for BBC TV. We are now considering the best way forward for the drama.

"Meanwhile our thoughts are with Nigella and the rest of the family."

Tribute was also paid by Chris Williams, editor of the Daily Express, for which Diamond had been a contributor and where he had written a column for the last two years.

"John was a gifted writer and columnist who will be sadly missed," he said.

"He was also a charming gentleman, who faced his illness with incredible courage."

Sir Paul Nurse, Director General of Imperial Cancer Research Fund, also expressed his great sadness.

Diamond had helped raise awareness of cancer with his work, which was immensely popular.

Sir Paul said: "His moving and honest descriptions of his battle with cancer over the last four years were a powerful reminder of the importance of cancer research.

"John's ability to put into words what so many cancer patients experience, gave a public voice to the 250,000 people who get cancer every year.

Cancer Research Campaign
Cancer Research Campaign: "He was a skilful communicator"
"He was never afraid of 'telling it like it was' and his harrowing, yet often light-hearted, account of his struggle provided a vivid reminder of the horrors of cigarettes and the misery they cause.

"He was extremely successful at getting under the skin of the tobacco industry."

And Professor Gordon McVie, director general of The Cancer Research Campaign, added his voice, saying: "He was one of the most skilful communicators about cancer, and one of the funniest.

"We extend our sympathy to his family and friends in their time of loss."

'Brilliant journalist'

Diamond's acclaimed book, C: Because Cowards Get Cancer, was adapted for stage by journalist Victoria Coren.

The play, entitled A Lump In My Throat, was shown in London and at the Edinburgh Festival.

Coren described the author as a "sparkling, lovable, huge hearted man and a quite brilliant journalist".

She said: "It was an incredible privilege to be one of his friends and a greater privilege still to be one of his readers."

Dominic Lawson, editor of The Sunday Telegraph, where Diamond was a columnist for three years, praised his professionalism.

Lawson, who was also Diamond's brother-in-law, said: "Somehow he never failed to turn out immaculate copy even though throughout that period he was undergoing, the most intensive and unpleasant treatment for his throat cancer.

'Lovable'

"A natural broadcaster, he lost his voice in the cruellest of circumstances, but his millions of readers heard him loud, clear and compelling to the very end."

And Roger Alton, editor of The Observer, another newspaper to which Diamond had been a regular contributor, added to the tributes.

"He was one of the most lovable people I have ever known," he said.

"No one could meet him without having their spirits lifted. Despite knowing that he had a terminal illness for three years it is still hard to believe that he is dead.

"He was a wonderful, generous, kind, funny friend and a superb professional journalist."

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