Fleet Street veterans paid tribute to Ross Benson whose journalistic talents and suave demeanour enabled him to master the disparate requirements of war reporter and social diarist.
Mr Benson, who wrote for the Daily Mail, was an award-winning journalist who moved effortlessly in the upper classes, chronicling their deeds and observing their foibles, but was a fearless reporter in a conflict zone. He died at his London home of a heart attack, just after seeing his team, Chelsea, beat Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday. He was 56.
Paul Dacre, editor-in-chief of the Mail, said: "His diary columns on the Express were among the best but more than anything he was a great foreign correspondent of the kind they don't make any more. Dashing, urbane, incredibly glamorous and utterly fearless, Ross's award-winning despatches for the Daily Mail from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts were the envy of his peers."
Benson joined the Mail as a reporter in 1967. In 1971 he moved to the Sunday Express then to the Daily Express, where he stayed until 1997 and returned to the Mail to specialise in foreign reporting. He was married to Ingrid Seward, who writes about royalty.
Sir Nicholas Lloyd, former editor of the Daily Express, said: "Ross was 56 but he looked considerably younger and behaved considerably younger. He was charming, handsome and classically English in his dress sense and style. And he was debonair; debonair was a word coined for Ross."