Tributes to journalist killed by crocodile in Sri Lanka
Tributes have been paid to a “talented, energetic and dedicated” British journalist, whose body has been found after a suspected crocodile attack in Sri Lanka.
Police divers found Paul McClean, a reporter for the Financial Times, dead in the mud of a lagoon south of Arugam Bay, on the country’s east coast. He had been on a beach and had wandered away to go to the toilet when he stumbled into an area containing crocodiles.
James Lamont, the FT’s managing editor, said the paper was offering its help to his family and liaising closely with the Foreign Office. “Our thoughts are with his family, friends and loved ones,” Lamont said. “We are in touch with them, doing all we can to help during this difficult time.”
He said McClean, 24, was “a talented, energetic and dedicated young journalist” who had “a great career ahead of him”.
Katie Martin, McClean’s boss on the fast-FT desk, said he was “a warm, funny person and a talented young journalist with a curious mind” and “a joy to be around, truly, with an impish sense of humour”.
Steve Bird, head of the FT’s NUJ chapel, said he knew McClean as “great colleague and journalist”.
“Paul was an important part of our chapel and engaged with our recent campaign highlighting the need to do more for trainees,” Bird said.
“In his two years at the FT, Paul made a big impact and won a lot of friends. He will be missed very much.”
A minute’s silence for McClean was held in the FT newsroom yesterday morning.
A crocodile is believed to have dragged McClean underwater on Thursday afternoon, a police official told Agence France-Presse. “There were six or seven wounds on his right leg,” the officer said. “The body was stuck in mud at about the same place where he was seen last by some others who were with him.”
McClean joined the FT as a graduate trainee two years ago. After growing up in Thames Ditton, Surrey, he graduated from Oxford with a first in French.
His most recent FT story explored the threat to champagne production from climate change.
The reporter was on holiday with friends in Panama, about 225 miles east of the capital, Colombo. Fawas Lafeer, owner of Safa Surf School, said local fishermen saw McClean being “dragged into a river” by a crocodile.
Lafeer said crocodiles had been known to hide bodies in the mud, but he said it was “almost unheard of” for the reptiles to come so close to the beach.
Paul McClean was found on a beach near the village of Panama on the east coast of Sri Lanka