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Last Updated: Monday, 19 July, 2004, 00:49 GMT 01:49 UK
Veteran journalist Paul Foot dies
Paul Foot
Paul Foot won numerous awards for his journalism
Campaigning journalist Paul Foot has died aged 66.

The former Private Eye, Daily Mirror and Guardian journalist was known for his left-wing politics and campaigns against miscarriages of justice.

"He was a one-off, and we'll miss him terribly," said Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger.

Mr Foot, the nephew of former Labour leader Michael Foot, is understood to have died of a heart attack, said Private Eye editor Ian Hislop.

Mr Foot was married with three sons and a daughter.

He pioneered the art of the investigative column, ferreting facts out of the unlikeliest places
Alan Rusbridger, Guardian editor

Mr Hislop said: "He was a tremendous journalist and he will be a huge loss."

Paying tribute to the award-winning journalist, Mr Rusbridger described his work as "fearless and frequently funny".

He said: "Paul came to the Guardian as an exile from Robert Maxwell. His column was - of course - politically committed.

"He pioneered the art of the investigative column, ferreting facts out of the unlikeliest places and knitting them into a commentary."

Mr Foot had also written several books, including Who Killed Hanratty, and Red Shelley and had published a collection of his columns, Articles of Resistance.

WMD 'piffle'

His other publications include Murder at the Farm: who killed Carl Bridgewater?, Why You Should Be a Socialist, and The Politics of Harold Wilson.

Mr Foot's political life saw him stand as a Socialist Alliance candidate in the 2002 election for Mayor of Hackney in London.

He came third after Labour and the Conservatives.

In the same year, Mr Foot rallied protesters against the war in Iraq and dismissed talk of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction as "piffle".

Mr Foot officially started working for the satirical magazine Private Eye in 1967, but he worked on it almost from its inception in 1961.

He had previously edited the Socialist Worker from 1974 to 1975 and worked for the Daily Mirror between 1979 and 1993.

He was Journalist of the Year in the What The Papers Say Awards in 1972 and 1989, Campaigning Journalist of the Year in the 1980 British Press Awards and won the George Orwell Prize for Journalism in 1994.

Send us your tributes and recollections of Paul Foot's work on the postform below.

Paul Foot was a great inspiration - I attended many of his talks at the London Marxism conference each year, and he was always very willing to talk to you afterwards. Compared to most journalists and politicians today, he managed to spare the sycophancy and went right to the sometimes ugly heart of the matter. He'll be greatly missed.
Mark Whitfield, Liverpool, UK

According to John Pilger, he was the best journalist Britain had and that is the best tribute I can give him.
Patrick Gibbons, Glasgow, Scotland

From my Conservative viewpoint, I found most of Paul Foot's views pretty barmy. It's interesting though that none of the criticisms currently being thrown at people like Michael Moore - that they 'edit' around the facts and distort to get their story - were ever really flung at Paul Foot, or at least never stuck. He was a first-class journalist who did the research and said it straight and honest as he saw it. Democracies and politicians do need that kind of scrutiny and there are too few like Paul Foot to provide it. You don't have to like someone to respect and value them.
Councillor Jeremy Kite, Dartford, Kent

If "Real Socialist" in his/her lifetime does one-hundredth of what Paul Foot did to advance the cause of socialism, I'll be very surprised. Read what Paul actually wrote, not what you imagine he did, and you'll see his belly was afire with rebellion all his life. His solution was revolution from below, not state control. I will remember him as a lucid writer, an inspirational speaker, and a tenacious fighter for justice.
Frank Ormston, York

I loved his politics, his passion and his determination to see though lies and humbug
Andrew Moody, Birmingham
I was involved in left wing politics during the dark days of the Eighties and was lucky enough to hear Paul speak at conferences and rallies on a number of occasions. He was, without the slightest doubt, the finest orator I have ever seen or heard. Only film of MLK and the " I have a dream" speech comes close. The way he built a powerful argument weaving facts, wit and erudition which never became patronising or elitist. I loved his politics, his passion and his determination to see though lies and humbug. It was a privilege to be in the same room as him. He will be missed.
Andrew Moody, Birmingham

Paul Foot had a very rare quality as far as British 'hacks' are concerned. He was a genuine investigative journalist, who was interested in the truth rather than a headline, and when the truth was found, the headline would follow. If journalists, looking after our democracy, had been on the case over the past two years, they would have smelled the rat that became Gulf War II, but they were as happy to publish 45 minute claims as the politicians were to spout the rubbish. Paul Foot was not a corporate stooge, and as such I cannot think of one journalist from any news provider who is even remotely capable of taking this man's mantle. He, like a decent British press, is sadly missed.
Tim Rose, UK

A truly intelligent, funny and articulate man. I had the privilege of hearing this man speak on several occasions-he was a devout political animal who was an inspiration for those on the left. He will be sorely missed.
Jock, Gwent

Although not a socialist or even left wing, I have enormous respect for his campaigning journalism and his refusal to adhere to the "official view" of key events and issues. Truly a sad day for real journalism.
Simon Rogers, Cardiff. Wales

A tireless campaigner for justice and truth
Bill Robinson, Dresden, Germany
Paul Foot was quite simply a great bloke. A tireless campaigner for justice and truth. I once wrote to him about something, not knowing that he was ill at the time. Despite his illness, he kindly wrote back, politely giving his opinions and some further information. I am so very sorry to learn of his death. My sincere sympathy to his family and friends. R.I.P.
Bill Robinson, Dresden, Germany

Liverpool 1996, Paul addressed the May Day and Dockers Rally late morning. Joan - Shop Steward in Glaxo - is home recovering from a brain operation. Paul spends the afternoon of the May Day Celebrations gently talking to her and lifting both our spirits on her road to recovery. Paul's loss to us is enormous but equalled and surpassed by the gigantic belief and understanding he had for a better world. We are fortunate to of known Paul and to have learned from him. Farewell to a man who had compassion courage and commitment in wanting to advance both in thought and action equality for all. Farewell comrade
John & Joan Bohanna, Liverpool

It's always a little unsettling when one of your peers dies. In Paul Foot's case, someone who influenced your thinking, and whose views and writings contributed towards making you the person you are today. I was lucky enough to meet Paul at a meeting many years ago, and heard him speak on several occasions. The news of his death today has touched me, and made me examine the politics of my middle age a little more closely. I will make more effort - I promise! You will be missed, Paul.
Jay Gage, Essex

Paul Foot was one of the true greats of the socialist left in this country. I heard him speak on several occasions and will never forget the power and passion of his arguments. His book 'Who Killed Hanratty' remains to this day a massive indictment of British justice and its failure to protect the innocent let alone convict the guilty. Foot is irreplaceable, he will be greatly missed but never forgotten.
Steve, Margate Kent

I grew up reading Paul Foot and his devil's advocate style of journalism - question everything - influenced me greatly. I may not have agreed with everything he stood for but I really admired this great journalist. At a time when we need such people he will be sorely missed.
Mike Ogden, Manchester

I have read Paul Foot all my adult life, in Socialist Worker, The Guardian, Private Eye, if not the Mirror. He was never less than honest and principled, and compassionate and funny as well. He was also an inspired and inspiring speaker - all the facts at his fingertips, and always prepared to expand and explain. I'm not sure I believe in the Pearly Barricades, but if they exist, Paul will not only be on them, but arguing for them to be moved a few feet to the left! Investigative journalism and the socialist movement are the poorer for his loss.
Sue Lambert, Macau, Macau SAR, China

He will be sadly missed, but never forgotten
Barry White, England
Paul was unique, combining the best in investigative journalism with a wonderful ability of analysing complex situations and ideas and presenting them in an understandable and often humorous way. A master of the polemic, great orator and lover and writer of great literature. Above all, he never lost the socialist vision that a better world was possible - a task we have to continue in his memory. I have shared many hours, some frustrating, and many uplifting especially in the last few years, watching, with him the changing fortunes of Plymouth Argyle. Sad he will miss their return to Division One in a few weeks time. Paul lived a good, great and full life. He will be sadly missed, but never forgotten.
Barry White, National Organiser Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom. England

A rare breed of journalist and writer who put his politics at the centre of his work and life. He proudly nailed his colours to the mast and did not dilute his politics for chattering liberals and middle class Blairites. A rare breed indeed.
Pete Reffell, Leeds, UK

I was shocked to hear this very sad news. I've read his books and columns, and listened to his words on many occasions in the past. I first met Paul at the offices of Socialist Worker and was always impressed by his eloquence and solid arguments. He WILL be missed - a tragedy for the socialist movement.
Charlie Fellowes, New York, USA

Very saddened to have heard the news this morning. A voice of decency and commonsense has now gone.
Yvonne Lewis, Leeds, United Kingdom

In these days of a media who blindly rehash what they are given by government, with never a thought to question or pursue, and call it journalism, he will be missed even more than ever. There are too few Paul Foot's in our media now. And our country and society are the poorer for it. Most so-called TV reporters have gall to call themselves such and can't hold a candle to him.
Hilary James, UK

Paul Foot was compassionate about the disadvantaged and a scourge of the privileged. I heard him speak last Tuesday at the SWP's Marxism event, his disgust with the Blairite project was undimmed, his words were clear and vicious, he had the audience entranced. Countless times he implored people to get out and change things, using the final verse of Shelley's mask of Anarchy poem, Paul's favourite: Rise like lions after slumber in unvanquishable number - shake your chains to earth like dew which in sleep have fallen on you - Ye are many - they are few The anti-war movement saw this start, he died optimistic.
Guy Taylor, London UK

A great writer, a great orator, a great mind. Unwavering in his commitment to exposing hypocrisy and promoting international socialism, his loss will be deeply felt.
Murray Meikle, Edinburgh, Scotland

A great modern revolutionary socialist. His death is a huge loss to the movement. I only met Paul once, but I will never forget him.
PJ, Orpington, Kent UK

I strongly agree with most of the comments made by others, but there's one thing missing: Paul was not only a wonderfully incisive speaker, he was very very funny. My favourite memory of him is of an appearance on Question Time, when he utterly destroyed some reactionary industrial fool by pure sharp wit. Wonderful!
Richard Carter, London, UK

I was deeply saddened to read of the untimely death of Paul Foot - in my humble opinion the greatest investigative journalist this country has ever produced. I remember interviewing him for the first time in 1980 as a young media student at his office at the Daily Mirror buildings in Holborn. He taught me so much about journalism in the 2 hour interview we had insisting that when people said they loved his journalism but had no truck for his socialism, that it was in fact his zeal for socialism and justice that motivated his writing. Despite us being worlds apart, him a public school Oxbridge-educated upper class chap and me a comprehensive-educated working class boy from social housing, he was never snobbish or patronising towards me. Fleet Street and campaigning journalism will be a much sadder place without him and he will be terribly missed.
Paul Wellings, London

I am really saddened by the news that we have lost an inspirational journalist. There is a lot of lazy journalism about, Paul Foot was an inspiration in not only the way he imparted information but also the content. He was someone with a good sense of humour and real passion too. Best wishes to everyone who knew him.
Claire Lyall, Glasgow, Scotland

I don't agree with the eulogies. He was committed to the outdated, damaging and irrelevant socialism that nearly brought this country down. He also worked for Maxwell and while he was criticising everyone else he failed to bring Maxwell's actions to light. I am sure he was a nice guy and was sincere but he was wrong and grossly partisan, assuming that people he disagreed with were nasty.
David Lightowler, Gravesend, Kent

A shining light in a sterile world of corporate PR. Will be greatly missed.
Jon Dickins, London,UK

I read Murder at the Farm nine to ten years ago and could not/would not put it down. I was truly horrified at what Paul had written as it was glaringly obvious that these men were innocent. I totally believe they would never have been freed if it was not for Paul's tireless efforts on their behalf. He should be remembered as a great human being who fought on behalf of people he did not know but cared about their plight deeply enough to bring it to all our attention. For that, he truly is a great humanitarian.
Fiona, London

One of the few journalists who recognised the need to investigate a story, not simply report the facts as given by those ubiquitous 'spokespeople'. Intelligent, brave and utterly committed to the search for justice, Paul's death is a huge loss for democracy in this country.
Barry Lane, Eastbourne, UK

A good, decent man who went out on a limb to help make the world a better place.
John Lawrence, Southampton,UK

His tireless independent search for truth and justice always shone through
Gary Girling, Hampshire
His tireless independent search for truth and justice always shone through. He always appeared very sincere and I really do hope that young journalists who are entering the profession today use Paul Foot not only as a personal hero but also as a role model that they hopefully will have the opportunity to use in their careers. We all need Paul Foot and his death is very much to the loss of decency and freedom.
Gary Girling, Hampshire

Farewell Comrade. Thanks for all your good campaigning work and your excellent journalism.
S, Lancaster, England

Very sad news for his family, friends and his profession. One of journalism's finest exponents in an ever more obsessed-with-the-superficial world.
Neil Wilkins, Vienna, Austria

Over the years I attended a fair few political meetings and Paul's are the most memorable. Farewell Comrade see you on the pearly barricades
Peter C, Aberdeen

A campaigning journalist of the like we will probably never see again in our lifetimes. Unlike the majority, he was prepared to dig a little deeper and ruffle a few more feathers. Through his work the British public became a little better informed and the British Establishment a lot more nervous; cover-ups and downright lies cannot be concealed from a free press: let's hope one day we have one.
Paul Clark, London

Paul was diamond - a journalist you could trust 100%. I only met him once, regarding the source of a story for the Mirror. He produced an absolute masterpiece: totally cutting and damning, but so very very accurate. Being involved in social issues at work over a long period, I always felt he was there is I needed help on something important. A sort of reassurance that there was actually a really good guy out there who would always help a just cause if he could. That was invaluable to me, and I would imagine others. What a loss to the world, but what good he brought to the world. Immeasurable.
Steve Addison, Macclesfield, Cheshire

A crusader for truth and justice, a brilliant public speaker and a huge asset to the progressive movement.
Luke, South Wales, UK

I've been reading and listening to Paul Foot since I was a teenager in the 1970s. I can't think of another journalist who has had as great an influence on my thinking as this sharp, thoughtful and utterly compelling advocate for socialism, truth and fairness. He made me laugh too. Condolences to his family.
Andy Hedgecock, Farnsfield, Nottinghamshire, England

Journalists like Paul Foot are, unfortunately, becoming scarce in this world of corporate media
Cara Murphy, London, UK
I grew up reading Paul Foot in the Daily Mirror and have always had respect for his commitment and journalistic integrity, even when he was being 'controversial'. He never "sold out" and was always true to his beliefs. Journalists like Paul Foot are, unfortunately, becoming scarce in this world of corporate media. We should remember Paul Foot as a brilliant investigative journalist, and not let his style of reporting die with him.
Cara Murphy, London, UK

Back in the late 70's a close Family Friend was imprisoned in India without trial, because of her extremely tenuous link to a very dangerous criminal. Our friend had a brief and passing acquaintance with this man, who was later to be identified as the serial killer known as "The Cobra". A number of Hippie Backpackers travelling India at the time also were unfortunate enough to meet him, many of whom tragically never lived to tell the tale. We were out of their minds with worry, particularly when her letters started telling of her bleak desperation and suicide attempts.

After many frustrating months of hitting dead ends, (e.g. The Foreign Office) my Parents thought of writing to Paul Foot, who was working for the Daily Mirror at that time. Thanks to his caring attitude and unrelenting tenacity (I think he badgered Interpol until they got sick of him) she was a free (though barely alive) woman in less than a year. I don't know where Sheryl is now, but I think she would want to say a posthumous Thank You again to Paul Foot for giving her life back. God Bless you Paul. Rest in Peace.
Shannon, Southampton, UK

One of the great people in journalism - and one of the very few to stand up to Robert Maxwell whilst he was alive! RIP; you will be missed.
Darren Farr (Private Eye subscriber), Billericay, England

I can remember his articles on the struggles Liverpool has faced. Full of searing, often uncomfortable, honesty and conviction. He never relied on anything less than the facts. Perhaps the greatest compliment is that people found it difficult to argue against him.
Jay, Liverpool, UK

Credit where it's due. He was very good at exposing the obscenity and madness of capitalism. Sadly, he never learned that the solution wasn't more state-run capitalism, but getting rid of capitalism altogether - both rightwing capitalism and leftwing capitalism.
Real Socialist, Dover, Kent

I generally found Paul Foot's politics crazy, and his writing wildly conspiratorial. I'm sure most of the miscarriages of justice that he followed weren't anything of the sort, and that most of his conspiracies were really just cock-up with a bit of cover-up. Still, we need journalists like him - people who will ferret around for the facts rather than rely on briefings by vested interests and spin doctors - and, as a Private Eye reader, I for on will miss him.
RK, London

Back in 1986 as a peaceful picket at Wapping I suffered some rather "rough handling" from four police officers. I received compensation some four years later.
I thought of ways that I could try to ensure that this sort thing did not happen to anyone else, it come to my mind that I should ring Paul Foot at the Daily Mirror. I got through to his secretary who said Paul was not there but if I gave her my telephone number he would get back to me. My thought was "don't call us we will call you", but within a short time Paul Foot rang me and listened with great concern and interest to my story. He ran an article about the incident and I am sure that this helped me and another print worker to get some justice for what had happened to us.

I spoke to Paul Foot on many occasions during this period and again some years down the line. He was unfailingly courteous and always showed concern for what had happened to me. He was a gentleman and I am greatly saddened by his death, he will be sorely missed.
Brian Donovan, London

Paul was a great man who remained at the side of the workers movement throughout. His loss is devastating but his vision of socialism will be brought about by new generations.
Paul Topley, Harlow Essex

I too heard him speak on several occasions, he stood up for truth, integrity and was a campaigner for democracy, how he will be missed!
Hilde Nixon , Eastbourne E. Sussex

Insomuch as he was one of a very, very few who had the intelligence to reject the hypocritical, the self-interested and the sham and who had the courage, the integrity to challenge them, he is a truly great loss.
Gerard Mulholland, Paris, France

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An interview with Paul Foot
in April 2000 on BBC Radio 4

Obituary: Paul Foot
19 Jul 04  |  UK
Activists prepare anti-war campaign
18 Sep 02  |  Politics


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