'Class act' Ross Benson dies suddenly at 56

By Dominic Ponsford

Senior Daily Mail writer Ross Benson has died suddenly at the age of 56.

A keen Chelsea fan, Benson watched his team’s thrilling four-two
triumph over Barcelona at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night, returned
home and apparently died in his sleep.

Mail editor Paul Dacre
said: “Ross Benson was a class act. His diary columns on the Express
were amongst the best, but more than anything he was a great foreign
correspondent of the kind they just don’t make any more.

“Dashing,
urbane, incredibly glamorous and above all fearless. Ross’s
award-winning dispatches for the Daily Mail from the Iraq and
Afghanistan conflicts were the envy of his peers.”

Benson started
in Fleet Street at 18 and worked on the Daily Mail and Sunday Express
before signing up with the Daily Express at the age of 23.

He was
US correspondent, chief feature writer and chief foreign correspondent
as well as diary editor with his own column for nine years.

Benson
had been with the Daily Mail since 1997 and was the current holder of
the Edgar Wallace Award for fine writing, issued by the London Press
Club.

His former editor at the Express, Sir Nick Lloyd, said:
“Ross had great style and was also a charmer with a sense in that
English way of being a charming debonair guy. You enjoyed talking to
him and that was part of the secret of his success. He could get people
to talk to him.

“His great skill as a foreign reporter was to use
his easy writing style to bring alive already pretty complex and
difficult situations. He was a really talented journalist and had both
style and substance.”

Fellow diarist Tim Walker (The Sunday
Telegraph’s Mandrake) said: “Above all things, Ross was a brilliant and
vivid writer who made you interested in whatever it was he was writing
about. Certainly, when he was doing his diary for the Express, he was
the only one of the diarists then around who could write brilliantly.

“Even Dempster would never have claimed to have been a great writer.”

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