Obituary: Robert Mauthner

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Robert Percy Mauthner, journalist: born Amsterdam 22 February 1929; European Correspondent, Paris Correspondent Financial Times 1971-81, Deputy Foreign Editor, Foreign News Editor 1981-83, Diplomatic Correspondent 1983-92, Diplomatic Editor 1992-94; married Anne Freyer; died London 18 May 1994.

ROBERT MAUTHNER was the pillar of the European and foreign coverage of the Financial Times for over 25 years. He was respected by his peers, a journalist's journalist who would always get the story right. Mauthner was the one you read to find out what really happened, what an event really signified. He was respected by those he wrote about because what he wrote was fair. Privately maybe, but never in print, would he allow his heart to rule his head. And everyone respected his judgement.

I first met Bob Mauthner in 1971, at the ramshackle old Continental Daily Mail building in Paris. Both the FT and the Reuters news agency, for whom I was then a trainee, had their offices there. Mauthner was a wonderful mentor, a source of encouragement and advice. In later years, after joining the FT (with a more than a helping hand from Mauthner) I and many others would automatically seek his counsel, on matters personal as well as professional. He was wise, discreet, kind, generous and utterly trustworthy. And fun too.

Maybe not always. Sometimes, he would be cantankerous and stubborn as a mule but invariably for good reason. And he was able to laugh at his own cussedness. No one was better value to share a meal with, be it a lavish restaurant, a bistrot du quartier in his beloved Paris, or just a hastily assembled plate of salami and pickle in my flat in Moscow. Above all he was a journalist, conscientious almost to a fault.

He knew no other trade and the resolutely pro-European FT was the perfect place for him to practise it. Mauthner never had to learn about 'Europe', or that Britain belonged in it. Europe was his culture and in his blood. Born in Amsterdam, he only became a British citizen in his early twenties and nothing infuriated him more than Little Englanders. These convictions he coupled with enduring stamina and enthusiasm. He simply did not know what the word retirement meant. Though stricken with cancer from which he knew there was no escape, Bob kept on working until beyond his 65th birthday, less than three months before his death.

(Photograph omitted)