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Brown hails Cole as 'soft-spoken giant of journalism'

Gordon Brown has joined Ed Miliband and David Cameron in paying tribute to the BBC's former political editor. Credit: DPA/Press Association

Former prime minister Gordon Brown has added his tribute to BBC broadcaster John Cole, who has died at the age of 85 after a long illness.

The statement from Mr Brown said: "John Cole was the soft-spoken giant of journalism whose friendly manner and unimpeachable integrity allowed him to ask the difficult questions that got to the heart of an issue.

"Respected by all, he leaves a great legacy of writing and commentating which will serve the test of time."

Hall: 'People wanted to know what John Cole thought'

The BBC's Director-General Tony Hall has paid tribute to the former BBC Political Editor John Cole.

"Everybody wanted to know what John Cole thought about what was happening in the world of politics. He took us through an extraordinary period of the Thatcher government," he said.

"People loved him and wanted to hear what he had to say," he added.

Major: 'When John Cole spoke, everyone listened'

Former Prime Minister Sir John Major has paid tribute to BBC broadcaster John Cole, saying that when he "spoke, everyone listened."

John Cole was one of the finest political correspondents of my lifetime, and a real credit to his profession. When John spoke, everyone listened.

He was always well-informed, balanced - and trustworthy - and set the bar very high for all who followed.

My thoughts and sympathy are with his family.

– Former prime minister Sir John Major

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Cameron 'saddened' by news of John Cole's death

Commenting on the death of former BBC political editor John Cole, who has died aged 85 after a long illness, 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."

Former BBC political editor John Cole dies aged 85

John Cole at the Conservative Party conference for the last time, before his retirement from the BBC in 1992 Credit: PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Former BBC political editor John Cole has died aged 85 after a long illness, his son Michael Cole has said.

In a statement, 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."

BBC reports former political editor John Cole has died

The BBC is reporting that its former political editor John Cole has died aged 85 after a long illness.

He was in the post from 1981 until the 1992 General Election.

Political correspondent Chris Mason tweeted: