Beeston remembered for his ‘fearless’ reporting
London – Tom Rollins
Richard Beeston, foreign editor at The Times in London, has died following an extended battle with cancer.
Journalists, colleagues and friends have offered tributes to Beeston, who covered war zones in Lebanon, Iraq and Chechnya.
“Richard Beeston was one of the finest and most courageous foreign correspondents of his generation,” his Times obituary read on Sunday. “Fearless, always fair, and unflappable even in the most extreme situations, he reported on many of the wars, civil wars and violent upheavals of the past 20 years.”
After beginning his career at The Daily Star in Lebanon during the country’s tumultuous 30-year civil war, Beeston (then 21) witnessed firsthand the bloody in-fighting between Muslims, Christians, Druze and Maronites, as well as the bloody conflict with Israel.
“As a crash course in the workings of Middle East politics, it was quite an education,” Beeston later said.
He was subsequently offered jobs at London’s Daily Telegraph and The Times, choosing the latter.
Beeston’s interest and passion for the Arab world took him far and wide across the region.
The Times reporter was one of the first journalists to visit Halabja after Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein massacred the Kurdish population with mustard gas and nerve agents, killing around 5,000 innocent civilians.
More recently Beeston had reported from Syria to witness the gathering violence there,
Beeston will be remembered by his colleagues for his principled reporting, warm character and wit.
“Beeston was a lovely and funny man,” NOW Lebanon columnist Michael Weiss tweeted on Sunday. “He once told me that Robert Fisk ‘reported from the front-lines of his own imagination.’”
“Very sorry to hear of death of much respected and liked Times Foreign Editor Richard Beeston. Brave, kind, intelligent. A lovely man,” Sky foreign editor Tim Marshall tweeted from Damascus.
“So sorry and sad that Richard Beeston has died. Great foreign correspondent, friend and colleague. A v decent man with a wonderful family,” Channel 4’s Washington correspondent Matt Frei added.
Beeston battled cancer for four years – even reporting from Syria following an operation to remove a brain tumour – but finally succumbed on Sunday.
“Almost to the end he continued going into The Times office to edit the paper’s foreign coverage. Making light of his illness, even at the worst times, he became an inspiration in courage to all who knew him,” his obituary in The Times said.
Beeston is survived by his wife, Natasha, and his two children.