DCSIMG

Missing reporter is journalist of year

ABDUCTED journalist Alan Johnston was named broadcasting journalist of the year last night at the London Press Club annual luncheon.

The Scottish broadcaster was nominated for the prize in recognition of his "outstanding journalism" before he was taken hostage by an unknown group in Gaza City on 12 March.

Mr Johnston's award was collected on his behalf by his father, Graham. In a short speech, he told the audience: "Being a dedicated journalist, this will mean a lot to Alan; however my family, we would like Alan to stand here today himself."

BBC director general Mark Thompson also paid tribute to the courage Mr Johnston's family had shown, stating: "We want him back and we wish he was here today."

He told the audience of the kidnapped journalist's "fantastic professionalism" and the dispassionate journalism which was loved by the BBC. He praised Mr Johnston's "inner integrity and conviction".

He added: "We are all incredibly delighted that his achievements and professionalism have been recognised by this award. The real prize will be when Alan comes back, but in the meantime, on behalf of the BBC, thank you very much for this award."

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, who also attended the awards, spoke of his own captivity under the regime of Idi Amin in Uganda: "Fifty days is a long time to be away from those you love.

"During my own 90-day captivity in Amin's cells in Uganda, just three weeks after my marriage, when I was kicked around like a football and beaten terribly, the temptation to give up hope of release was always present."

 
 
 

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