Mail writer Benson dies after watching Chelsea game

Senior Daily Mail writer Ross Benson died suddenly on Tuesday night at the age of 56.
A keen Chelsea fan, he watched his team’s
thrilling four-two triumph over Barcelona at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday
night – returned home and apparently died in his sleep.
Daily 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 on 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 (aka the Sunday
Telegraph’s Mandrake) said: “I remember emailing Ross just before Bush
was about to visit shock and awe on Baghdad and frankly I didn’t think
Ross’s chances were great.
“I remember telling him that, if there was any justice in the
world, he would get a British Press Award for his coverage of the war
for the Daily Mail which had been superb. He had demonstrated beyond
any doubt that he was my definition of a great journalist – he was
every bit as good a foreign correspondent as he had been a diarist. I
am sure there was no discipline in journalism that he could not conquer.
“Ross emailed me back immediately. It was odd
getting an email in real time from someone in such mortal danger. His
email was – for once – ungrammatical and full of typos. He apologised
for this. He said he hadn’t slept in weeks because of the nightly
“‘A press award?’ he had replied. ‘I’d settle for
getting home, having a bath and a decent night’s sleep. There are no
heroes in war reporting – just the ones who manage to get the job done
and who dodge the bullets and the ones who don’t.'”
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