BBC journalist Brian Hanrahan dies

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The Independent Online

BBC journalist Brian Hanrahan, best known for his coverage of the Falklands War, has died aged 61.

He famously told the nation that he watched Harrier jets take off during the conflict, "counted them all out, and I counted them all back".

The often-quoted line was a way of getting around reporting restrictions imposed by the Ministry of Defence which prevented details of operations being reported.

Among the colleagues who paid tribute was BBC director general Mark Thompson, who said: "Brian was a journalist of unimpeachable integrity and outstanding judgment but his personal kindness and humanity also came through. That is why audiences and everyone who knew him here will miss him very much."

He was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year and his condition deteriorated when he was admitted to hospital with an infection 10 days ago.

Hanrahan, who leaves behind a wife and daughter, spent 40 years with the BBC reporting from all over the world.

He covered stories such as the assassination of Indira Gandhi in India, the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev in the Soviet Union, the Tiananmen Square massacre and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Fellow BBC reporter Kate Adie said Hanrahan had "a wonderful way with words" and recalled hearing his famous Falklands broadcast.

She said: "It was an extraordinary moment. You heard the words and you knew the import and the way he had delivered it and rightly it has gone into history that phrase."

Foreign Secretary William Hague said he was "saddened" to hear of his death.

He said: "Throughout his long tenure as a foreign and diplomatic reporter, Brian's professionalism, dedication and unfailing good humour won him great respect and many friends in British politics and throughout the British Diplomatic Service. I offer my sincere condolences to his family, friends and colleagues."

Mark Byford, deputy director general and head of journalism, said he was one of the "BBC's greatest journalists".

He said: "His work covering the Falklands War produced some of the most memorable war reporting of the last 50 years. His great craft of using words sparingly but powerfully is a lasting memory for me.

"A beautiful writer, a beautiful man, whose passion for the BBC and for high standards in journalism inspired us all. All Brian's friends and colleagues across BBC News offer their sympathies to his family today and salute one of the giants of broadcast journalism."

BBC World News editor Jon Williams paid tribute to the man he described as "a big character" and said he had been scheduled recently to report on the last flight of the Harrier jets which are being scrapped because of spending cuts.

He said: "It's a mark of the man that even last week, as he lay in his hospital bed, he was texting colleagues to say how sorry he was that he wouldn't be able to cover the last flight of the Harrier. Last week, as the Harriers landed for the final time, the crews of RAF Cottesmore recorded a get-well message to Brian. They, like us, valued him as a friend."