Obituary: Jon Leyne remembered

Jon Leyne Jon Leyne worked in Tehran (above) and across the Middle East

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BBC correspondent Jon Leyne, a familiar voice and face covering some of the biggest and most intractable international stories of the past three decades, has died in London after being diagnosed with an incurable brain tumour. He was 55.

Jon joined the BBC in 1985 straight from post-graduate studies at Oxford, and went on to hold some of the corporation's most sought-after foreign postings, including the United Nations in New York, Tehran, Amman, Washington and, until recently, Cairo.

Reporting trips took him even further afield, covering war and unrest in Baghdad, Belfast and Kosovo to name just a few.

He was State Department correspondent in 2001 and was close to the Pentagon when the building was attacked from the air on September 11th, the incident which would provide the editorial context for his subsequent career.

While reporting on Secretary of State Colin Powell's post-9/11 diplomatic missions to Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and the Middle East, he would demonstrate one of the key attributes of a successful foreign correspondent, an unerring ability to broadcast fluently and authoritatively after very little sleep.

Keen musician

He was appointed Amman correspondent in 2004, reporting from Lebanon and Syria during the 2006 conflict between Israel and Lebanese militias, and from both Palestinian and Israeli sides of the second Intifada.

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One of Jon's early assignments was to provide commentary for the University Boat Race”

End Quote Andrew Steele BBC News

Jon's final editorial challenge would be reporting the Arab uprisings, from the Tunisian revolt to the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya and then, on his own doorstep in Cairo, the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak after the Tahrir Square pro-democracy protests.

His coverage, with memorable images of camel-mounted police charges and pieces to camera in swirling tear gas, has earned him a short-listing for this year's International Emmys News awards.

Blinding headaches while covering the story in Cairo would provide the clue to his fatal illness, and he ended his posting in Cairo a few months early to return to the UK for medical treatment.

He remained optimistic to the end, promising to resume kitchen duties on his return home and planning a trip to his beloved home on the Isle of Seil, off the west coast of Scotland.

A keen runner, rower and musician, one of Jon's early assignments with the BBC was to provide commentary for the University Boat Race and on the British rowing successes at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona.

He was an accomplished pianist and one of his first missions when posted overseas was to source a piano. While in Jordan, Jon also took the opportunity to play bassoon with one of the country's top orchestras, performing in the Roman amphitheatre in the ruined city of Jerash.

Jon was educated at Winchester College and Exeter University before taking an MPhil in the international response to terrorism at St Anthony's College, Oxford. He is survived by his wife, Maire Devine and step-children Rachel and John.

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