Murdered Scots journalist ignored family's pleas not to visit Baghdad

THE parents of a young Scottish journalist shot dead in Baghdad described yesterday how they struggled in vain to persuade him against travelling to the Iraqi capital.

Richard Wild, 24, was determined to make his name as a television correspondent by reporting on the aftermath of the Gulf war, and brushed aside the concerns of his family that he would be placing himself in danger.

He was shot in the head at close range on Saturday, less than two weeks after arriving in Baghdad. It is believed he may have been the victim of an Iraqi assassin who mistook him for an off-duty member of the United States armed forces.

A US soldier was shot in a similar manner yesterday afternoon as he queued to buy a soft drink at Baghdad University. Last night, he was in a critical condition in hospital. Another US serviceman died last week when he was shot in the head while shopping.

At Mr Wild’s family home in St Boswells, in the Borders, his father, Robin, said there had been a concerted effort by relatives to talk his son out of going to Iraq.

"We didn’t expect him to listen to his parents, but his aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters and friends had all tried to reason with him," said Mr Wild, 62, a former chief dental officer for Scotland. "We didn’t feel he had any reason to put himself in that situation, but Richard didn’t take any notice. He was determined to make his name by going out there, but obviously not in this way."

His wife, Daphne, 62, added: "The whole family tried to dissuade him. He was very young and just didn’t quite realise how dangerous it was out there."

Their son was a Cambridge University graduate who joined the army during his gap year, gaining a commission at Sandhurst and serving in Cyprus. After graduating with a degree in history, he began doing freelance work as a researcher for television stations in London.

Mr Wild travelled to Baghdad 12 days ago. He intended to work for six months on a freelance basis, returning home for Christmas.

Among his first assignments was a piece for Channel Five News on Palestinians living in Baghdad. He also hoped to write for British newspapers and had contacted The Scotsman with a view to contributing articles.

While in Iraq, he sent daily e-mails to his family and admitted that he had found it difficult to adjust to life in Baghdad.

In his last message, he wrote: "I think I am beginning to find my feet, although my feet were a lot further away than I had realised."

The concerns of his family had grown in recent days as the attacks on US soldiers became more frequent.

Mrs Wild said: "My sister-in-law was in touch only yesterday to say that she wanted an e-mail address so she could send a message telling him to come home."

Mr Wild said: "It is difficult to know what to feel at the moment. By going to Iraq, Richard put himself into this situation. I don’t think anyone can be blamed except him for going there.

"It was what he wanted to do."