Skip to main content Skip to Search Box
Summary Article: Bell, Martin
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

UK journalist, politician, and ambassador for humanitarian emergencies for UNICEF UK from 2001. As a BBC foreign correspondent, he reported on many of the world's most important and difficult news stories, initially making his name with his coverage of the Vietnam War. He was elected as an independent member of Parliament in 1997 (until 2001) for the constituency of Tatton in Cheshire. As UNICEF ambassador he has visited some of the most devastated and deprived areas of the world. In 1992 he was awarded an OBE and the Royal Television Society Reporter of the Year award (which he also won in 1976).

In 1997 he left the BBC to stand for election as an independent candidate in the previously safe Conservative parliamentary seat of Tatton, winning with an 11,000 majority. Having later lost the 2001 election as a candidate for Brentwood and Ongar, he announced his retirement from national politics. However, he did stand unsuccessfully as an independent for the European Parliament in 2004. As an ambassador for UNICEF, he has travelled to Basra in Iraq to report on post-war reconstruction work, to the Darfur region of Sudan to report on the humanitarian crisis, and to Sri Lanka to visit areas struck by the 2004 tsunami.

Born and educated in Cambridge, he gained a degree from King's College. In 1962 he joined the BBC as a news reporter in Norwich and then moved to London before starting his long career as a foreign correspondent with an assignment in Ghana. He went on to report from over 80 countries, covering national, regional, and global developments. In his last BBC assignment he was wounded in Sarajevo during the Bosnian war of the early 1990s.

© RM, 2018. All rights reserved.