Prime minister, leader of the opposition and owner of the Sunday Times praise war reporter killed by shelling in Homs
As soon as her death was confirmed, stunned tributes poured in for Marie Colvin – from politicians, including the prime minister and foreign secretary, from her own colleagues, including her editor at the Sunday Times and the paper’s owner Rupert Murdoch, and from scores of other journalists who had worked with her or admired her unfailing courage and determination to get the story whatever the danger.
David Cameron, speaking at prime minister’s questions, said: “This is a desperately sad reminder of the risks that journalists take to inform the world of what is happening and the dreadful events in Syria, and our thoughts should be with her family and her friends.”
Murdoch described her as “one of the most outstanding foreign correspondents of her generation”.
In an email to staff he said: “Marie had fearlessly covered wars across the Middle East and south Asia for 25 years for the Sunday Times. She put her life in danger on many occasions because she was driven by a determination that the misdeeds of tyrants and the suffering of the victims did not go unreported.”
John Witherow, editor of the Sunday Times, remembered both her courage and her love of life. He said in a statement: “Marie was an extraordinary figure in the life of the Sunday Times, driven by a passion to cover wars in the belief that what she did mattered.
“She believed profoundly that reporting could curtail the excesses of brutal regimes and make the international community take notice. Above all, as we saw in her powerful report last weekend, her thoughts were with the victims of violence.
“Throughout her long career she took risks to fulfil this goal, including being badly injured in Sri Lanka. Nothing seemed to deter her.
“But she was much more than a war reporter. She was a woman with a tremendous joie de vivre, full of humour and mischief and surrounded by a large circle of friends, all of whom feared the consequences of her bravery.”
Foreign secretary William Hague said he was “deeply saddened” by the news. In a statement he said: “Marie Colvin embodied the highest values of journalism throughout her long and distinguished career as a foreign correspondent for the Sunday Times.
“For years she shone a light on stories that others could not and placed herself in the most dangerous environments to do so, including suffering injuries while reporting in Sri Lanka. She was utterly dedicated to her work, admired by all of us who encountered her and respected and revered by her peers.
“Her tragic death is a terrible reminder of the risks that journalists take to report the truth. It is also a terrible reminder of the suffering of the Syrian people – scores of whom are dying every day.
“Marie and Remi [French photographer Remi Ochlik] died bringing us the truth about what is happening to the people of Homs. Governments around the world have the responsibility to act upon that truth – and to redouble our efforts to stop the Assad regime’s despicable campaign of terror in Syria.”
Labour leader Ed Miliband called her an inspiration. “The journalistic community have lost one of their finest and their most fearless. Marie Colvin was not only a brave and tireless reporter across many continents and in many difficult situations, she was also an inspiration to women in her profession. Her reports in the hours before her death showed her work at her finest.”
Bill Neely, international editor at ITN News, said she was someone who made a moral difference.
“She took the deep breath over and over and plunged herself in, as deep as she could, to scoop out the nuggets we all need to know. And we were all, as a people, better for her.
“Her final dispatch was as deep as they come, in the ‘widows’ cellar’ where women and children cower from Assad’s assault and death feels imminent.
“At a time when journalists are being examined as never before, it’s time to acknowledge someone who made a difference, a moral difference, to our country and our lives. That was Marie.”
The veteran journalist and Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow wrote on Twitter: “Utterly devastating: the most courageous journalist I ever knew and a wonderful reporter and writer.”
Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, said: “Marie was an excellent reporter who said that her mission was ‘to report the horrors of war with accuracy and without prejudice’.
“She did that with bravery and grace. The unspeakable violence that the government of Syria is meting on its own people is something it does not want the eyes of the rest of the world to see. Marie and her colleagues knew they had to be there to shine a torch on such atrocities, with the consequent risk to their lives.”
The president of the International Federation of Journalists, Jim Boumelha, said: “The killing of these journalists, including Colvin who was a highly respected war reporter, shows the indiscriminate attacks on the city make it unsafe for journalists to report at the time when the world desperately needs information on the Syrian crisis.”
Helen Fielding, the author, also paid tribute. Fielding, who was a close friend of Colvin’s, said in a statement: “Marie Colvin was the bravest and best of women, the most fearless and committed of journalists, and the dearest, most loyal and wildest fun of friends. I am so sad and so proud of her.
“Marie’s life’s work was to expose the excesses and brutalities of war with accuracy, without prejudice and in the hope of curtailing those excesses.
“It’s to be hoped that there will be action to end the Syrian brutality which has cost Marie’s life and that of countless others.”
Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen added: “Marie Colvin was a truly brilliant journalist who fearlessly reported on terrible abuses of human rights around the world.
“We are shocked and saddened at her death, which is a terrible loss to journalism in this country.”
from Maev Kennedy