Newsreader Carol Barnes dies

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The Independent Culture

Former ITN newsreader Carol Barnes died in hospital today after reportedly suffering a stroke last weekend.

Her son James tonight paid an emotional tribute, saying he would be forever indebted to her.

"My mum was a beautiful, kind and delicate person - a person loved by many and whom I am desperately proud to call my mother," he said.

"She did everything in her power to love, care and provide for me, my sister and all those close to her. I am eternally indebted to her for what she has given us. I will always love her and she will forever be in my heart."

Tributes from colleagues in television poured in after the 63-year-old's death at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.

Barnes began her working life as a teacher, before joining ITN as a reporter in 1976 and going on to anchor all the broadcaster's main news programmes, including the flagship News at Ten bulletin for a number of years.

After initially leaving ITN, she rejoined the news team for the war in Iraq as one of the main presenters on the now-defunct ITV News Channel.

Barnes had a long relationship with former Government Minister Denis MacShane.

Their 24-year-old daughter Clare was killed in a skydiving accident in Australia in 2004.

Mr MacShane said tonight: "Carol bred affection, warmth, political acuteness and humanity wherever she lived and worked.

"Losing our daughter Clare was a terrible blow but she recovered her bounce and joy for life and last time we talked she was full of plans for the future and love for James.

"Her so sudden death robbed a massive network of friends of one of the best."

An ITN statement released on behalf of the family tonight said: "It is with deep sadness that the family and close friends of Carol Barnes announce that she died today.

"Known affectionately as Barnesy to her many friends and colleagues Carol was only recently commissioned by ITV to present a documentary about former ITN colleague Ed Mitchell - she also had a string of other projects under way," the statement added.

The family asked for their privacy to be respected at this difficult time and will not be making any further comment.

ITV news presenter Alastair Stewart, a close friend for many years, spoke for all her former colleagues when he said: "Barnesy was a rare creature - as capable on location as she was in the studio. Her public face was that of the polished professional. Privately she was just a lovely, generous and delightful person.

"Despite all that life threw at her she remained great fun to be with we shall miss her very much indeed."

Sky News presenter Dermot Murnaghan said Barnes took him under her wing when he started at ITN in the late 1980s and he would remember her with great affection and respect.

"She couldn't have been kinder, more helpful and caring to someone like me," he told Sky News.

Murnaghan said Barnes used to give him advice on how to cope with the hours and environment.

He added: "I was in awe of the mighty Carol Barnes and she was just so down to earth, so helpful but, above all, so professional."

Former ITN chief executive Stewart Purvis told Sky: "It is a very sad day for friends, colleagues and viewers."

He praised Barnes's talents and said that when behind the camera you look for "somebody who is going to get you out of trouble, who is going to connect with the viewer and be friends with the viewer".

"She was friends with us, she was friends with the viewers, she was friends with everybody," Mr Purvis added.

Earlier this year, Barnes presented the ITV programme Saving Ed Mitchell, based on the fall from grace of her former colleague, who also lives in Brighton and Hove.

Ex-newscaster Mitchell hit the headlines last year after revealing how he had been forced to spend his nights sleeping on a seafront bench because of debt and alcoholism.

Speaking of her death, Mitchell said tonight: "It's very, very upsetting news. She was a good friend and a good colleague over some 20 years.

"She was extremely sympathetic to my problems at the time of the documentary. She was willing me to succeed. It's just so awful to learn that she isn't now here."