UK: Former BBC Political Editor John Cole dies

John Cole at the Conservative Party conference for the last time, before his retirement from the BBC

John Cole at the Conservative Party conference for the last time, before his retirement from the BBC. - Credit: PA

Former BBC Political Editor John Cole has died aged 85 after a long illness, his son, Michael Cole, said today.

The broadcaster, whose distinctive Ulster accent made him a regular subject for satirists, spent more than 10 years with the BBC after a lengthy career in newspapers.

His family said: “While many people will remember John for his journalism and broadcasting, for us he was the most loving, funny and devoted husband, father and grandfather. We will miss him terribly, but have so many memories of the tremendous happiness he has brought into our lives.”

He died at his Surrey home yesterday and is survived by his wife Madge, four sons – Donald, Patrick, David and Michael – and nine grandchildren.

As the face of the BBC’s political coverage during the Thatcher years, he covered major stories including the Falklands War, the Brighton bomb and Mrs Thatcher’s resignation.


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Cole was born in Belfast in 1927 and started his career on the Belfast Telegraph in 1945 before joining The Guardian, where he worked as labour correspondent, news editor and eventually deputy editor.

In 1975 he joined The Observer before moving to the BBC in 1981.

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He retired after the 1992 general election and wrote his memoirs, As It Seemed To Me, and a novel set in his native Northern Ireland.

David Cameron’s official spokesman said: “The Prime Minister is deeply saddened by the news and would send his condolences, of course, to Mr Cole’s family and friends.

“He is someone who contributed so much to British political life.”

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