Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Obituary: Trouble spots were magnet for reporter Desmond Hamill

'He was responsible for covering the Gulf War and many other global conflict zones'

Desmond Hamill
Desmond Hamill

Retired ITN foreign correspondent Desmond Hamill, who has died aged 76, led an adventurous life and faced hair-raising situations in pursuit of exclusive stories in war-zones.

Hamill, born in Holywood, Co Down, came within a few feet of being blown up during the Lebanese civil war in 1982.

He dived into a trench as a bomb exploded at the exact spot where his driver was standing.

The next day Desmond was kidnapped by an armed group, who held him for hours until ITN paid a ransom.

Hamill covered the Gulf War, Kuwait, Afghanistan and many other conflict zones around the world.

He also investigated the crises in the rain forests of the Amazon and Nepal and HIV/Aids in Africa.

But the assignment of which he was proudest was his success in uncovering the illegal ivory trade route from Africa through the Gulf into Hong Kong.

After his broadcasts, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species banned the trade in elephant ivory.

Back in the UK, Hamill did stories on Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs and covered the trial of Jeremy Thorpe at the Old Bailey, in which the former Liberal leader was acquitted on a charge of conspiracy to murder male model Norman Scott.

He also wrote a novel, Bitter Orange, about Northern Ireland and what he called the "deep-rooted tribal loyalties" of the province.

He is survived by his wife of 50 years Brigid, a son and a daughter.

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