Media News

Celebrated associate FT editor Gardner passes away

April 21, 2022

Posted by Chris Roush

David Gardner

David Gardner, the international affairs editor and associate editor at the Financial Times, died earlier this week. He was 69.

He joined the paper in 1978 and has worked mainly as a foreign correspondent, a regional specialist, or writer on international affairs.

Roula Khalaf, the FT editor, in an internal email announcing his death, wrote:

“David was one of the finest journalists of his generation, a beautiful writer and formidable mind, blessed with boundless curiosity about the world around him.

His range was unrivalled: David was as comfortable dissecting the affairs of Westminster and Brussels as he was analysing the Middle East or the politics of southern Europe. He brought to all his stories and columns a sharpness of intellect as well as a passion for the people behind them.

David was a dear friend to me and my first boss and a dear colleague to many of you. I know we will miss him terribly.”

From 1978-80, Gardner was the FT’s Spain correspondent, covering the country’s democratic transition. From 1980-83, he worked on the international desk, launching the first FT international edition. From 1984-89, he was Mexico and Central America correspondent, covering the start of Mexico’s transition to democracy.

From 1989-90, he served as FT deputy features editor, and thereafter as Brussels correspondent until 1994.

From 1995-99, Gardner became the FT’s Middle East editor, before later moving to New Delhi to become South Asia bureau chief until 2001. From 2002-06, he served as FT’s international affairs writer, and from 2006-10 as chief leader writer and associate editor.

Jude Webber, now Dublin correspondent but longtime Mexico City bureau chief, wrote:

“Kind, charming, funny and caring sum up his messages to me over the years about nutty Latin American politics and earthquakes, and so on.

But I pass on this recollection he shared below (and will toast him in rum…) RIP David. What a loss. Thinking of his family and all those close to him.”

“There were too many awful things when I was in Central America in the 80s, obviously, yet I include among them, in a neon footnote, an incident one day in the Reuters office in the Camino Real in San Salvador. This psycho former Gurkha officer whom I had met when he was a Reuters graduate trainee in Madrid when I was there with the FT had an epic tantrum after speaking to London, and proceeded to destroy the office. First, he put his fist through a lamp and then tried to break the window with it (all fine by me, if that helped him out), but then he pulled out the thin drawer of the metal filing cabinet where a group of aficionados kept a stache of thin bottles of clandestine Flor de Canya – and hurled it at the window: Sacrilege!”

In 2003, Gardner won the David Watt international political journalism prize for his writing on the Arab world. He is also the author of “Last Chance: The Middle East in the Balance” (I.B. Tauris), which was long-listed for the 2010 George Orwell book prize.

The book, originally published before the Arab Spring, was released in paperback with a new preface.

Gardner regularly appeared on international television and radio and has lectured or given papers at think-tanks, foundations and universities around the world.

As of now, there are nearly 50 responses to the internal FT email with all kinds of remembrances of his humanity, his journalism and his long lunches at a pub near the FT offices, the Boot & Flogger.

Wrote one colleague: “A lovely tribute that I think he would have appreciated!”

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