Richard West, 'one of the finest foreign correspondents of the 20th century', dies aged 84

Richard West, who has died age 84, was described as a “paragon of the independent journalist for his generation” in an obituary by The Guardian.

He started at the Manchester Guardian in the 1950s, as a reporter covering the North West of England and Yorkshire.

After a few years, he moved to London and started working for the Daily Mirror.

However, according to The Guardian: “Dick was not cut out for obeying tabloid news editors and soon became the freelance journalist – living precariously off advances on expenses and facility trips to interesting places – which he remained for the rest of his time.”

In addition to The Sunday Times, he wrote for the New Statesman and The Spectator.

As reported in The Times’ obituary, he once reported on a shepherding competition through the eyes of a sheep and claimed that he was sacked from his job on the letters page of the Daily Mirror for inventing correspondences.

West was described as “one of the finest foreign correspondents of the 20th century” by Damian Thompson in The Spectator.

The Telegraph’s obituary on his life recounts the story of how once "he went on a bender in Saigon and woke up the next day in a ditch outside a tropical city. Only when he had walked some way into it did he discover on inquiry that the city was Singapore. How he had got there was never explained.”

During his career as a foreign correspondent, he travelled to and reported from Eastern Europe, including Yugoslavia and Poland; Africa, especially Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe); and South Africa and the territory that eventually became Namibia.

He married Mary Kenny, an Irish-born journalist and columnist who wrote for The Sunday Telegraph, among other publications.

After suffering a stroke, West moved with his wife to the Kent seaside town of Deal. Kenny put aside her career to look after him in his final years.

West is survived by his wife and two sons, Ed and Patrick, who are also journalists.

His youngest son, Ed West, is deputy editor the Catholic Herald and writes for The Spectator.

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