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Columnist hailed as ‘Scotland’s finest journalist’ dies aged 59

Ian Bell

Tributes from across the worlds of media and politics have been paid to a columnist dubbed ‘Scotland’s finest journalist’ following his death aged 59.

Ian Bell, left, worked for all of Scotland’s major titles during the course of his career along with several national newspapers.

The multiple award-winner, who wrote for Glasgow daily The Herald and its sister Sunday Herald title at the time of his death, was hailed by his editor as “a vital voice in the national conversation.”

During his career he won the Orwell Prize for political journalism in 1997,  numerous Columnist of the Year awards, and the Saltire Society’s Best First Book award in 1994 for his biography of Robert Louis Stevenson.

Born in Edinburgh, Ian began his career as a sub-editor, before becoming a political specialist and later columnist.

He worked at The Scotsman and Daily Record, later moving on to the Observer and Times Literary Supplement prior to his time at The Herald.

Magnus Llewellin, editor-in-chief of The Herald & Times Group, said: “Ian was a great writer and, more importantly, a great man.

“His was a vital voice in the national conversation but, more than that, he was a man of profound depth with a hinterland in literature, history and the arts, as demonstrated by the many awards he won as a journalist and author. Our thoughts are with his family and his many, many friends.”

Others to have paid tribute include BBC journalist Andrew Marr, who posted on Twitter: “Scotland has lost her finest journalist: I, a kind friend and a wise mentor I never listened to enough… devastated.”

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon added: “Ian will be so sadly missed. My thoughts are with his family. We have lost one of our finest journalists.”

Ian is survived by his wife Mandy and son Sean.

In a statement in The Herald, Sean said: “Our family has lost a husband, a father and a son and Scotland has lost its finest journalist. He set a standard none shall ever reach again yet he inspired us to never stop trying.”

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  • December 11, 2015 at 7:01 pm

    Rest in peace, Ian. Scottish journalism has lost a great columnist. I had the pleasure of subbing your stuff and it was always immaculate and thought-provoking. I wish there were more writers like you to fill the huge space you have now left.

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