BBC foreign correspondent Brian Hanrahan dies at 61

Veteran BBC foreign correspondent Brian Hanrahan, best known for his coverage of the Falklands War, has died at the age of 61.

The BBC said this morning that Hanrahan had been diagnosed with cancer earlier this year and treatment was progressing well but he was admitted to hospital with an infection ten days ago and his condition deteriorated.

Hanrahan spent almost 30 years with the BBC reporting from all over the world.

He covered stories including the assassination of Indira Gandhi in India, the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev in the Soviet Union, the Tiananmen Square massacre and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

However, he is remembered most for famously telling the nation that he watched Harrier jets take off during the Falklands Conflict and “counted them all out, and I counted them all back”.

The often-quoted line was a way of getting around reporting restrictions imposed by the Ministry of Defence that prevented details of operations being reported.

Mark Thompson, BBC director general, said: “Brian was a journalist of unimpeachable integrity and outstanding judgment, but his personal kindness and humanity also came through.

‘That is why audiences and everyone who knew him here will miss him very much.”

Mark Byford, deputy director general and head of journalism, said he was one of the “BBC’s greatest journalists”.

He said: “His work covering the Falklands War produced some of the most memorable war reporting of the last 50 years.

‘His great craft of using words sparingly but powerfully is a lasting memory for me.

“A beautiful writer, a beautiful man, whose passion for the BBC and for high standards in journalism inspired us all.

‘All Brian’s friends and colleagues across BBC News offer their sympathies to his family today and salute one of the giants of broadcast journalism.”

BBC World News editor Jon Williams paid tribute to the man he described as “a big character” and said he had been scheduled recently to report on the last flight of the Harrier jets which are being scrapped because of spending cuts.

He said: “It’s a mark of the man that even last week, as he lay in his hospital bed, he was texting colleagues to say how sorry he was that he wouldn’t be able to cover the last flight of the Harrier.

‘Last week, as the Harriers landed for the final time, the crews of RAF Cottesmore recorded a get-well message to Brian – they, like us, valued him as a friend.”

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