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Richard Lindley (Read 597 times)
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Richard Lindley
Nov 28th, 2019, 9:08am
 
The television reporter, Richard Lindley, who worked on Panorama for 15 years, has died at the age of 83.  Here is the Guardian’s obituary.
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Re: Richard Lindley
Reply #1 - Nov 29th, 2019, 8:53am
 
This is from The Times, November 21, 2019

Veteran ITN war correspondent and Panorama presenter whose interviewees ranged from Saddam Hussein and Idi Amin to the Beatles

No foreign correspondent wants to be remembered for the scoop they missed, yet this, in a strangely good way, was the fate of the veteran ITN war reporter and Panorama presenter Richard Lindley.

With his shock of blond hair, piercing blue eyes and casual elegance, Lindley stood out in the era of glamorous television journalists who brought news of war and uprisings around the world into Britain’s homes.

Over a career spanning decades, he interviewed the Beatles, questioned Idi Amin about the expulsion of Asians from Uganda and, in 1981, became the first western journalist to interview Saddam Hussein and hold him to account over his torture record — something to which he readily admitted. At other times he interviewed Nelson Mandela, Robert Mugabe, the Shah of Iran and the deposed King of Greece.

However, it was Lindley’s “missing of the scoop” during the Bangladesh genocide in 1971 that perhaps illustrated best the clear-sighted integrity for which he was so admired.

In his book about his ITN years, And Finally . . . ?, Lindley described arriving at Dacca (now Dhaka) Stadium two days after the end of the fighting between India and Pakistan with a cameraman and sound recordist to witness a victorious Bengali resistance leader address the crowd.

Bound by their hands and feet, a few captives lay on the ground before him. It was to be an ITN television exclusive. But as the guerrilla leader raged on, his flunkies casually began to torture the prisoners on the ground, burning them with cigarettes and prodding them with bayonets.

The journalists remonstrated with the guards, but they would not stop. Increasingly the crew felt that their presence was exacerbating the danger faced by the prisoners. “There was now a real danger that the prisoners were being tortured for the benefit of the television camera,” Lindley wrote. “And so, along with stills photographer Penny Tweedie, we left.”

Two photographers from Associated Press left with them, but returned later to capture the victims being beaten and bayoneted to death. For their efforts they won the Pulitzer prize in 1972, but ITN had no coverage of the incident. To Lindley it seemed the right thing to do at the time, although he noted that the crew received no “herograms” from the foreign desk for their decision.

Later he questioned whether he had made the right call, but to many other colleagues, including John Pilger, it was courageous and it came as no surprise to the former ITN editor Stewart Purvis. “Others might have stayed . . . but the fact that he knew it would be controversial and was sure it was the right decision was a mark of the man.”

Richard Howard Charles Lindley was born in Winchester in 1936 to Dorothea Helen Penelope Hatchell, known as Penelope, a housewife, and Guy Lindley. His father served in the Hampshire Regiment and retired as a lieutenant-colonel.

Educated, not entirely happily, at Bedford School, Lindley was encouraged by an inspiring history teacher to apply to study at Cambridge, where he won an exhibition to read English at Queens’ College.

Before university he did his National Service with his father’s regiment, by then renamed the Royal Hampshires, as a second lieutenant fighting in the Malayan Emergency. It was during this time that he developed a scepticism of authority, finding it ludicrous that as a fresh-faced 19-year-old he, rather than a far more experienced sergeant, was in charge of taking men on patrol through the jungle.

On graduating he worked briefly in advertising before being engaged in 1962 by ITN as a reporter. One of his early assignments was to sit in a car all night outside the house of Sir Winston Churchill to see if he could confirm rumours that the former prime minister was on his deathbed. Lindley was promoted to war correspondent and, with a reputation for forensic analysis, he covered riots on the streets of Paris in 1968, the Prague Spring, and reported from the front line in Vietnam and Cambodia, as well as the Middle East in the Six Day War.

Present for the declaration of independence in Rhodesia, as well as witnessing atrocities in Biafra, Lindley resisted becoming the saloon-bar bore. Instead, he cut a thoughtful figure, one who always strove to find the truth.

In lighter moments he clearly enjoyed telling stories about ITN’s failed attempt to locate the Loch Ness monster, and the time he and his film crew lost a yacht along with almost all their equipment in a bid to be first to film Francis Chichester’s triumphant arrival home on Gipsy Moth after his single-handed sail round the globe. Afterwards Lindley put in an expenses claim worthy of William Boot, the hapless reporter in Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop: it was for the 300 tonnes of gravel ballast he had had to buy to charter a passing Dutch coaster.

In 1973 Lindley was poached by the BBC’s flagship current affairs programme, Panorama, where he remained for 15 years. Roger Bolton, a former editor, remembered his films as hard-hitting but commanding respect. He recalled one on the attempted privatisation of the nuclear industry and how, in spite of feeling bruised by Lindley’s grilling during filming, Lord Marshall was so impressed by the reporter that he asked Lindley to deliver the eulogy at his funeral.

For George Carey, the film-maker and former director of BBC News, Lindley’s finest hour came during the Falklands conflict. The regular presenter of Panorama Robert Kee was a former bomber pilot who felt an intense loyalty to the armed services, so much so that he thought the programme’s reporting should be more partisan.

Carey disagreed. Kee stepped away as presenter and Lindley stepped in to front the show with a calm if slightly chilly authority. His dogged questioning left the defence secretary John Nott looking peeved and rattled, and this did not sit comfortably with the largely gung-ho mood of the viewing public. Many a harrumphing “letter to the editor” was fired off from the shires, some of them featuring the words “disgrace” and “shower”.

When the BBC followed this with a programme by Michael Cockerell making the case against war, Cecil Parkinson rang to say that “all hell had broken loose” in Downing Street. “In that high-tempered era,” Carey recalled, “it seemed hot stuff. The BBC was always going to be summoned to account and Richard was a wonderful sheet anchor.”

After leaving the BBC Lindley joined the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) and in 1988 met his second wife, Carole Stone, at the International Television Festival in Edinburgh.

It was a case of opposites attracting: he was a handsome, somewhat cerebral reporter with a hint of melancholy who listened to classical music and read biographies of Byron to relax; she was the flamboyant producer of BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions? as well as the founder of a professional networking operation. Having married first in 1976 to Clare Fehrsen and had two children — Tom, a television producer, and Jo Saucek, the UK project director of the British-American Project — Lindley was initially reluctant to remarry.

Eventually, ten years after they met, he married Stone at St Martin-in-the-Fields, London. She was 57, he 63. They lived in Gospel Oak, London, and his life was transformed. They became known for hosting salons and throwing parties. His party piece was to sing and tap dance, which rarely failed to surprise guests.

After a year at the IBA Lindley was lured back to television, reporting and presenting on ITV’s This Week and then rejoining ITN, where he presented its World News and made special reports for News at Ten.

Purvis remembered Lindley as a friend who kept his own counsel, but would never shy away from making the case, politely, for what he thought was right, however unpopular that may have been.

In retirement Lindley wrote And Finally . . . ?: The News from ITN and Panorama: Fifty Years of Pride and Paranoia, became the governor of the Royal Free Hospital in London and the chairman of the organisation Voice of the Listener and Viewer.

He was appointed MBE for his charity and voluntary work in 2017. Latterly he suffered early onset dementia and, as a veteran journalist to the end, he made a series of podcasts to examine the condition.

Richard Lindley, MBE, broadcaster, was born on April 25, 1936. He died of heart failure on November 6, 2019, aged 83

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