Trib­utes to jour­nal­ist killed by crocodile in Sri Lanka

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Damien Gayle

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

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