Noll Scott has died aged 51 in a car crash in Brazil, along with his daughter Tania.
was a Latin America expert, a foreign correspondent and a computer
genius who helped transform The Guardian for the demands of the digital
Oliver Joseph ‘Noll’ Scott was born on 12 April 1953 in Glossop, Derbyshire.
leaving Bootham College in York, he spent a gap year in South America,
initiating what was to become one of the abiding interests of his life.
a brief interlude studying mathematics and philosophy at Bedford
College he was on his way back to South America, working his passage on
He spent his 21st birthday in a Peruvian jail because of visa problems.
Undaunted, he got his first journalistic job working for the Peruvian Times .
in England, after two years at Queen Mary College he resumed his
journalistic career – including a stint at Building magazine, where one
of his assignments was to review a new brick.
In 1979 he joined The Morning Star .
There he met Pat Smith, whom he married in 1980, and with whom he had two children, Nicky and Tania.
years later he returned to Latin America, this time working for the
Prensa Latina news agency in Cuba and as a stringer for The Guardian .
He formally joined the paper in 1987, eventually joining the foreign news desk.
1994 he was posted to Brazil as Latin American editor, a brief he
fulfilled with sympathy, humour and insight. It was in Sao Paulo that
he met his second wife, Tina Leme.
After 18 months he returned to London and put his computer skills – largely self-taught – to good use.
his byline drops out of the electronic archive at this point, that
archive itself was just one of his many achievements of his work in the
editorial systems department.
He was a key figure in a wide range
of areas from putting the crossword online to the creation of the
newspaper’s pioneering digital editions.
His unique combination
of talents – journalist, programmer and effortless communicator – meant
that in his amiable, unassuming way he accomplished more than legions
of consultants and analysts.
A man of great charm and warmth, who
loved to discuss with friends – who included most people he met –
everything from politics to football.
He always retained his love for Latin America, an affinity reflected in his approach to punctuality.
Beyond his many talents, it is his cheerful, if slightly unkempt, presence that will be missed most.
Noll is survived by his first wife Pat and their son Nicky, his second wife Tina and their son Ian.