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Veteran ITN correspondent Michael Nicholson dies aged 79

The veteran war correspondent Michael Nicholson has died aged 79, his family has announced.

He passed away on December 11 while on a cruise with his wife, Diana.

In a career spanning more than five decades, he reported on the 1991 Gulf War, the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Falklands War in 1982, the Balkans conflict, the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, and the Fall of Saigon the following year.

In a statement, his family said: “He was an amazing father, devoted grandfather, loving husband and dear friend.

"A dedicated family man, he was desperately looking forward to celebrating Christmas with his children and grandchildren.

"He was a highly accomplished correspondent, much admired by his peers across the world.

"His passing has devastated us all but he will be forever remembered through his enormous love for life and substantial professional legacy.”

Former ITN presenter and colleague Sir Trevor McDonald said Nicholson "almost single-handedly changed the face of TV news reporting."

"Michael Nicholson was almost without doubt the finest television journalist of his generation," he said.

"His aggressive pursuit of stories came to symbolise what the new kid on the block, as ITN then was, was all about.

"He was brilliant and he was fearless."

ITV News presenter Alastair Stewart said he was "saddened" by the death of a "giant" of television news.

Nicholson joined ITN in 1964, and was the network’s Senior Foreign Correspondent between 1989 and 1999.

He then joined ITV’s flagship current affairs programme Tonight, presenting long-form reports from across the UK and around the world.

In 1976, he became ITN's first bureau chief in South Africa and was the first television correspondent to live in apartheid South Africa.

Nicholson reported from the toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad at the end of the Iraq War.

Michael Nicholson (right) with fellow newscasters John Suchet (left) and Trevor McDonald (centre) at the opening of an ITN war reporter display at the Imperial War Museum in 1997. Credit: PA
Channel 4 breakfast television presenters enjoy a cup of tea in London's Covent Garden. From left to right: Michael Nicholson, Carol Barnes, Garry Rice, Debbie Greenwood, Dermot Murnaghan, Susannah Simons and Richard Whiteley. Credit: PA

ITN Chief Executive John Hardie said Nicholson had "devoted his life to shining a light on the darkest stories".

"Michael Nicholson is rightly regarded as a true legend of ITN," he said. "As a journalist he is renowned and revered throughout our industry and beyond for his courage, his intelligence, and his compassion.

"Michael made it his life's work to shine a light upon the world’s stories, even – perhaps especially – in the most dangerous and challenging of circumstances.

"From Saigon to Sarajevo, the stories he has covered in a career spanning decades are simply too numerous to mention in full, but will live long in the memory of all who have seen his work. Our thoughts and condolences are with his family and loved ones tonight."

Nicholson leaves behind his wife, four children and three grandchildren.

Former ITN reporter Michael Nicholson at an exhibition profiling the work of war correspondents from 1914 onwards. Credit: PA