Born on 31 August 1938 in Redisham, Suffolk, the son of Adrian Bell - a farmer, essayist and founder of the Times crossword - Martin Bell's early education was at the Leys Public School, Cambridge, before going on to Cambridge University, where he repaid his family's support by graduating with a first-class honours degree in English.
His ambition to be a journalist took root at just twelve years old, from the anecdotes related to him by his grandfather, Robert Bell, a former news editor of the world's oldest Sunday newspaper,
In 1962 Martin Bell joined the BBC in Norwich. Three years later he moved to BBC TV News where he was given his first foreign assignment (Ghana) in 1966, the following year. He went on to report from eighty countries, covering eleven conflicts such as full scale wars in Vietnam and the Middle East; civil war in Nigeria and Angola; and tribal warfare in Rwanda and Northern Ireland.
His last assignment for the BBC was the three-cornered civil war in Bosnia, which followed the break-up of Yugoslavia. His journalism won him Royal Television Society 'Reporter of the Year' awards in 1977 & 1993, and in 1992 he was awarded an OBE.
Given his education and intellect, Martin Bell's role in the demise of former Conservative MP Neil Hamilton is both sad and absurd. In truth, it serves as a devastating indictment of Bell's character; and the freedom and encouragement he received from the Guardian-driven British media serves as a telling indicator of the profession's ethical standards.