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Tributes paid to former newspaper editor and communications consultant Austin Hunter who died suddenly in Bahrain

Tributes have been paid to former newspaper editor Austin Hunter who has died suddenly in Bahrain.

Mr Hunter, 64, was knocked down and killed in a road crash in Bahrain.

The Co Tyrone born father-of-two was on business in the Arab state when the incident happened on Saturday.

In a career spanning 45 years, Mr Hunter held a range of influential jobs in media and public relations.

Mr Hunter was previously the editor of the News Letter and also worked for the BBC and for a time headed up the police press office.

First Minister Arlene Foster has spoken of her shock at Mr Hunter's sudden death on Saturday, adding she is deeply saddened.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness described him as a "very good journalist and nice man".

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said he is stunned that Mr Hunter is gone, adding that he admired him very much.

"When we first met at the BBC, Austin was a great fan of cricket and reported for Sportsound when I was a presenter at BBC NI Sport," he said.

"We both went on to work for BBC News and Current Affairs and he established a deserved reputation for solid, considered journalism, picking a fine line as he reported at a time of often huge tension and controversy.

"I admired him very much, both as a professional broadcaster and as a fine human being who was always keener on talking about others rather than himself.

"My thoughts are with the Hunter family at this shocking time."

UUP MLA Danny Kennedy added: "Austin Hunter was a distinguished journalist of the highest standards and also a very fine man. He was an outstanding journalist with the BBC and as Editor at the News Letter. Austin covered many stories over the period of The Troubles, not least the story of Kingsmills in which he produced an important documentary which brought to the wider community the full horror of that atrocity. He was at all times professional and scrupulously fair. I extend my heartfelt sympathy to his wife and family at this sad time."

TUV leader Jim Allister said he is greatly shocked and saddened by Mr Hunter's sudden passing.

"Austin was a man who made his mark in many people's lives not just through journalism but who used his talents, often on a voluntary basis, to help deserving causes," he said.

"Indeed my most recent involvement with him has been in respect of his work with Dr Janet Atkinson in support of the Air Ambulance campaign.

"I was in touch with him just last Tuesday on this important issue. He didn't seek the limelight but worked assiduously on this and other issues.

"Sincerest condolences to his wife and family. His son Simon, of course, is known to many of us through his own work as a journalist. May the family know comfort and strength at this devastating time."

Mr Hunter worked in the media and public relations industry for over 40 years after beginning his career as a newspaper reporter at the Strabane Weekly News and Tyrone Constitution before moving to the BBC .

News Letter editor Alistair Bushe said he is shocked and devastated to hear of his passing.

“During Austin’s period as editor of the News Letter, it achieved its best circulation figures for eight years, his leadership skills help lead it out of a difficult period and even after he left the paper in 2006, he always maintained a close affinity for the News Letter," he said.

"He was a hugely respected and well liked figure across the media industry in Northern Ireland.

“My deepest sympathy to his family at this terrible time.”

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