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Veteran BBC journalist Stephen Grimason who broke news of the historic Good Friday Agreement in 1998 dies aged 67



Veteran BBC journalist Stephen Grimason who broke news of the historic Good Friday Agreement in 1998 dies aged 67
• The veteran BBC journalist Stephen Grimason has died aged 67 after a long battle with cancer
  • Stephen Grimason died following a long battle with cancer
  • He left the BBC to become Stormont’s director of communications until 2016

The veteran BBC journalist Stephen Grimason who broke news of the historic  Good Friday Agreement in April 1998 has died aged 67.

The former BBC Northern Ireland political editor passed away following a long-term battle with cancer.

Following his iconic three-decade-long career in journalism, Grimason, originally from Lurgan, Co Armagh, later went on to work for the Stormont administration as director of communications.

He spoke publicly over the last year about his fight against cancer and said he received well wishes from former Prime Minister Tony Blair among others.

In an interview in January when he, along with former UTV political editor Ken Reid, was honoured with the Chancellor’s Medal for services to journalism, he described leaving it as ‘a bit of a wrench’, recalling ‘being surrounded by tremendous people’.

The icon is widely remembered for breaking the news of the Good Friday Agreement in April 1998 and reporting on The Troubles

• The icon is widely remembered for breaking the news of the Good Friday Agreement in April 1998 and reporting on The Troubles

Looking back, he said he had a ‘seat at the table for an awful lot of pretty dramatic Executive meetings’ in the 2000s.

Grimason cut his teeth working in local newspapers including the Lurgan Mail, the Ulster Star in Lisburn and Banbridge Chronicle, as well as regional papers, the former Sunday News newspapers and the News Letter.

At just 27-years-old, Grimason had become the editor of the Banbridge Chronicle.

Later, after 12 years in newspaper journalism, he applied for a job at the BBC in Northern Ireland.


‘There were something like 300 of us (who applied) and two of us got jobs – so I must have bluffed my way rightly,’ he said of that time.

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Speaking in January at Queen’s University around the then political stalemate, Grimason noted the ‘tide of Irish and Northern Irish politics goes in and out’, adding: ‘If you’re not careful and you don’t lead, you’ll be left on the beach.’

He also spoke of covering some of the darkest days of the Troubles, including atrocities within days in January 1992 – an IRA bomb which killed eight construction workers at Teebane, Co Tyrone, and the killing of five people by loyalists at the Sean Graham bookmakers on the Ormeau Road in Belfast.

‘I was the first reporter at Teebane. In the end, I think that the big success of the peace process was that actually peace, or an imperfect version of it, did win through,’ he said.

When Grimason memorably broke the news of the peace deal which helped end the troubles, he declared on television: ‘I have it in my hand’.

Stephen Grimason, who was the BBC NI political editor in 1998, re-enacts the moment he broke the news to the TV audience that the Good Friday Agreement was across the line
• Stephen Grimason, who was the BBC NI political editor in 1998, re-enacts the moment he broke the news to the TV audience that the Good Friday Agreement was across the line
Former UTV political editor Ken Reid (left) and former BBC Northern Ireland political editor Stephen Grimason (right) at the Queen's University in Belfast where they were honoured with the Chancellor's Medal for services to journalism

• Former UTV political editor Ken Reid (left) and former BBC Northern Ireland political editor Stephen Grimason (right) at the Queen’s University in Belfast where they were honoured with the Chancellor’s Medal for services to journalism

Ken Reid (left) and Stephen Grimason (right) at Queen's University in Belfast

• Ken Reid (left) and Stephen Grimason (right) at Queen’s University in Belfast

Grimason was described as a ‘brilliant political editor’ by former Northern Ireland presenter Noel Thompson, BBC reported.

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‘He had the two most important attributes for the job. He loved the gossip – the inside track – and he loved to share it with the rest of us,’ he said.

‘His biggest scoop was of course getting hold of a copy of the Good Friday Agreement before any of the hundreds of other journalists camped out at Stormont.


”I have it in my hand’ he told me live on air, with justifiable pride and excitement. It’s one of the key journalistic moments of the last 30 or 40 years.’

Grimason left the BBC to become Stormont’s new director of communications, a role he held until 2016.

He suffered heartache in 2022, when his younger brother Darryl, who was also a BBC journalist ad presenter, passed away.

Adam Smyth, director of BBC Northern Ireland, also paid tribute to Grimason following his shock death.

He said: ‘Stephen Grimason possessed the special talents that only the very best editors and correspondents exhibit – the audience always came away from his broadcasts feeling they knew and understood the political landscape better, and they trusted what he had to say.

‘Stephen’s list of contacts and sources was so extensive he regularly seemed to be one step ahead of everyone else – including the politicians.

‘His contribution to BBC Northern Ireland is deeply appreciated and we offer our sincerest condolences to Stephen’s family.’

Ken Reid wrote on X, formerly Twitter: ‘Stephen Grimason, my dear friend, has died.


‘He showed enormous courage against the odds right to very end. In over 40 years of friendship and rivalry we never exchanged a cross word.

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‘Lucky to have spent time with him in his last days. Sleep well my friend’.

Outside of work, Grimason was reportedly an avid golfer and a keen rugby and football fan, and passionate about Chelsea FC.  (Daily Mail)

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How United Kingdom deliberately infected thousands with HIV, Hepatitis – Report



Infected blood victim Brendan West poses for a photograph at his home in Farnborough, Hampshire, England, Thursday March 28, 2024. Mr West lost his leg in 1979 and was given a blood transfusion while at a British Military Hospital in Germany. After trying to give blood three years ago he learned he has been infected with Hepatitis C for decades. (Andrew MatthewsPA via AP)
British authorities and the country’s public health service knowingly exposed tens of thousands of patients to deadly infections through contaminated blood and blood products, and hid the truth about the disaster for decades, an inquiry into the U.K.’s infected blood scandal found Monday.

An estimated 3,000 people in the United Kingdom are believed to have died and many others were left with lifelong illnesses after receiving blood or blood products tainted with HIV or hepatitis in the 1970s to the early 1990s.

The scandal is widely seen as the deadliest disaster in the history of Britain’s state-run National Health Service since its inception in 1948.

Former judge Brian Langstaff, who chaired the inquiry, slammed successive governments and medical professionals for “a catalogue of failures” and refusal to admit responsibility to save face and expense. He found that deliberate attempts were made to conceal the scandal, and there was evidence of government officials destroying documents.

“This disaster was not an accident. The infections happened because those in authority — doctors, the blood services and successive governments — did not put patient safety first,” he said. “The response of those in authority served to compound people’s suffering.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak apologised to the victims and said the report’s publication marked “a day of shame for the British state.”

Campaigners have fought for decades to bring official failings to light and secure government compensation. The inquiry was finally approved in 2017, and over the past four years it reviewed evidence from more than 5,000 witnesses and more than 100,000 documents.

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Many of those affected were people with hemophilia, a condition affecting the blood’s ability to clot. In the 1970s, patients were given a new treatment that the U.K. imported from the United States. Some of the plasma used to make the blood products was traced to high-risk donors, including prison inmates, who were paid to give blood samples.

Because manufacturers of the treatment mixed plasma from thousands of donations, one infected donor would compromise the whole batch.


The report said around 1,250 people with bleeding disorders, including 380 children, were infected with HIV -tainted blood products. Three-quarters of them have died. Up to 5,000 others who received the blood products developed chronic hepatitis C, a type of liver infection.

Meanwhile, an estimated 26,800 others were also infected with hepatitis C after receiving blood transfusions, often given in hospitals after childbirth, surgery or an accident, the report said.

“I am truly sorry,” Sunak told a packed and silent House of Commons. “Today’s report shows a decades-long moral failure at the heart of our national life. From the National Health Service to the civil service to ministers in successive governments, at every level, the people and institutions in which we place our trust failed in the most harrowing and devastating way.”

He vowed to “right this historic wrong” and said details of a compensation package, expected to total 10 billion pounds ($12.7 billion), would be announced Tuesday.

The report said many of the deaths and illnesses could have been avoided had the government taken steps to address the risks linked to blood transfusions or the use of blood products. Since the 1940s and the early 1980s it has been known that hepatitis and the cause of AIDS respectively could be transmitted this way, the inquiry said.

SEE ALSO:  Woman dies in attack by registered XL bullies at East London home

Langstaff said that, unlike a long list of developed countries, officials in the U.K. failed to ensure rigorous blood donor selection and screening of blood products. At one school attended by children with haemophilia, public health officials gave the children “multiple, riskier” treatments as part of the research, the report said.

He added that over the years authorities “compounded the agony by refusing to accept that wrong had been done,” falsely telling patients they had received the best treatment available and that blood screening had been introduced at the earliest opportunity. When people were found to be infected, officials delayed informing them about what happened.

Langstaff said that while each failure on its own was serious, taken “together they are a calamity.”


Andy Evans, of campaign group Tainted Blood, told reporters that he and others “felt like we were shouting into the wind during the last 40 years.”

“We have been gaslit for generations. This report today brings an end to that. It looks to the future as well and says this cannot continue,” he said.

Diana Johnson, a lawmaker who has long campaigned for the victims, said she hoped that those found responsible for the disaster will face justice — including prosecution — though the investigations have taken so long that some of the key players may well have died since.

“There has to be accountability for the actions that were taken, even if it was 30, 40, 50 years ago,” she said.

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Woman dies in attack by registered XL bullies at East London home




A woman in her 50s has died after she was attacked by her two registered XL bullies at a house in east London.

The woman was treated by paramedics at the home in Cornwall Close, Hornchurch, but died at the scene on Monday afternoon.

The two dogs were seized by armed officers after being contained in a room.

It is believed to be the first fatal attack by XL bully dogs that were known to have been registered under new laws.

A blue forensic tent was put up outside the woman’s home in the small residential street following the attack.
Forensic team walking out of house with bags
Image caption, Officers can be seen working at the property

Officers and forensic teams can be seen removing items from the property.

The family of the woman, who was the owner of the dogs, is being supported by officers, the Metropolitan Police says.

Neighbours have described seeing paramedics administer CPR to the victim in her front garden.


A woman, who has asked to remain anonymous, said: “I came out of the house and looked to see what had happened. We hadn’t heard anything but saw a helicopter overhead and loads of police.
“I stood by the road and saw a paramedic administering CPR. That poor woman. It’s shocking.”
Scene on Cornwall Close
Image caption, Two XL bully dogs were seized by armed officers at the home.

Another woman, who also did not want to be named, said she heard barking during the incident and had previously warned her child about going near the XL bully dogs.
‘A lot of barking’
“I said ‘don’t ever touch those dogs. They’re dangerous’.

SEE ALSO:  Woman dies in attack by registered XL bullies at East London home

“I didn’t see anything but I heard a lot of of barking and saw a lot of people outside,” she said.
One neighbour said he did not hear the incident but saw the police helicopter followed by up to three ambulances and about nine police cars arriving at the scene.
He said: “I looked out and saw two or three ambulances and eight or nine police cars. We asked police what had happened, they said there’d been ‘an unfortunate incident’.
Neighbour Sejal Solanki

“At around 4.15pm we were told to evacuate. We were out for around half an hour while police blocked off the road.”

Neighbour Sejal Solanki called the woman’s death “very very sad”.
“The fact that that’s happened with her own dogs is scary,” she said.
“We have children and they’re playing in the field there, near her house, and it could happen to anybody really.”
What is the XL bully ban and how dangerous are they?
Julia Lopez, the MP for Hornchurch and Upminster, told BBC Radio London: “I think the whole community is in shock at this incident.”

“To find out it was as a result of her two dogs was deeply distressing and I obviously think of her family and her neighbours who will have been deeply affected by this,” she said.

Michaela Scott
Image caption, Local dog trainer Michaela Scott, who specialises in working with XL bully dogs, said there were “quite a lot” of people in the area with XL bullies
From 1 February, it became an offence in England and Wales to own an XL bully without an exemption certificate.
‘She was complying with law’

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Anyone who owns one of the dogs must have the animal neutered and microchipped, and keep it muzzled and on a lead in public, among other restrictions.


According to the Office for National Statistics, there were 16 deaths due to dog attacks in 2023, a sharp rise from preceding years where the number had been in single figures.

As of late 2023, around 60% of dogs held in police kennels were a bull breed of some kind.

Ms Lopez added that while incidents like this would “provoke a new debate” on the rules surrounding XL bully ownership, it was her understanding the “lady affected had those dogs under the new licences that requires the dogs to be neutered, to be chipped, to be muzzled”.
“So she was complying with the law.”

Scene on Cornwall Close
Image caption, Items have been removed from the home
Dog behaviourist Michaela Scott, who lives near the house where the woman died in Hornchurch, said attacks like this could be scary for people who did not work with this breed.
“It’s really sad for the person, the neighbours, for the local community,” she said.

Ms Scott, who specialises in working with XL bully dogs, said there were “quite a lot” of people in the area with the breed.

She said there had been a rise in demand from owners for her training program to help their dogs adapt to the new rules.

“Owners want to do what’s right for their dog,” she said. “They want to know how to keep their dog safe as well as everyone else safe.”

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South Africa’s top court bars Jacob Zuma from standing in election



South Africa's top court bars Jacob Zuma from standing in election

South Africa’s highest court has barred former President Jacob Zuma from running for parliament in next week’s general election.

The Constitutional Court ruled that his 15-month prison sentence for contempt of court disqualified him.

Mr Zuma was convicted in 2021 for refusing to testify at an inquiry investigating corruption during his presidency which ended in 2018.

He has been campaigning under the banner of the newly formed uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party after falling out with the governing African National Congress (ANC).

MK secretary general Sihle Ngubane said the party was disappointed with the ruling, but it would not affect the party’s campaign for the 29 May election.

“He is still the leader of the party. It [the ruling] doesn’t affect our campaign at all,” he said.

South Africans vote for political parties, with the candidates at the top of their lists getting parliamentary seats depending on the number of votes the party gets.

The electoral commission said Mr Zuma’s name would now be removed from MK’s list of parliamentary candidates, while confirming that his image would remain on ballot papers, alongside his party’s logo.


MK members sang and danced outside the court portraying Mr Zuma as a victim, while those inside – some dressed in traditional Zulu regalia – sat silently as Justice Leona Theron read out the unanimous judgement.

Mr Zuma has not yet commented on the ruling.

His supporters rioted after he was sent to jail in 2021, and some of its leaders had threatened violence if the court disqualified him from standing for parliament.

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But MK officials have since changed their rhetoric, saying the party’s focus was on getting a two-thirds majority so that South Africa’s constitution could be changed, and Mr Zuma could be returned to power.

In court, his lawyers had argued that because he was released after three months in prison by his successor, President Cyril Ramaphosa, the rest of his sentence was cancelled.

But the court disagreed, saying the length of time he actually spent in prison was irrelevant.

South Africa’s constitution barred anyone sentenced to 12 months in prison, without the option of a fine, from serving in parliament in order to protect the integrity of the “democratic regime” established after the end of the racist system of apartheid in 1994, Justice Theron said.

Mr Ramaphosa told a local radio station that he “noted” the ruling.


“The court has ruled, and as I have often said, that is the highest court in the land and we have given the judiciary the right to arbitrate disputes amongst us in terms of our constitution,” he said in an interview with 702.

Political analyst Levy Ndou told the BBC that the ruling had the “potential to test his [Mr Zuma’s] character – whether he joined the party for selfish reasons or whether he joined it to take South Africans forward”.

The ruling could weaken MK’s chances in the election if its members joined the party out of loyalty to a “single individual”, but if they genuinely believed in its cause then they “would have to focus the activities of the party without him”, he added.

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MK has been plagued by in-fighting since last month, with Mr Zuma rising to the helm of the party after ousting its founding leader, Jabulani Khumalo. He insists he is still the leader of the party.

Mr Ramaphosa ousted Mr Zuma as president in 2018 after a vicious power struggle, and is leading the ANC’s campaign to extend its 30-year rule.

Mr Zuma’s removal was welcomed by many South Africans as his nine years in office were marred by widespread allegations of corruption, which he has always denied.

The former president said last December that he could never vote for a party led by Mr Ramaphosa and has spearheaded MK’s campaign. This will be the first election that it will contest after it was registered as a party last September.

The party’s emergence has raised the prospect that the ANC could lose its parliamentary majority for the first time in 30 years ago.


MK’s support is mainly in Mr Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal, and the economic heartland, Gauteng.

These two provinces have the highest number of registered voters, and have been the main battleground in the election.

South Africans will be voting for the national parliament, and nine provincial legislatures.

The president is elected by the new parliament, while each legislature elects a provincial premier.

The court’s ruling bars Mr Zuma from taking up a seat in parliament or any of the provincial legislatures.

An Ipsos opinion poll released last month gave MK 8% of the vote, and the ANC 40% as it loses support to MK and other opposition parties.

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But some analysts suggest that with the governing party stepping up its campaign in recent weeks, it could still cross the 50% mark.

The ANC got 57.5% in the 2019 election.


Former President Thabo Mbeki, who remains popular among many voters, recently joined the ANC’s campaign in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, denouncing Mr Zuma as a “wolf in sheep’s skin” and a “counter-revolutionary”.

uMkhonto we Sizwe, which roughly translates as Spear of the Nation, is the original name of the ANC’s armed wing, which fought apartheid. (BBC)

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