Thu, 20 June, 2024

David Wright

Posted: July 31st, 2021

FORMER Mirror man DAVID WRIGHT died from cancer on July 31 [2021] in Florida. He was 82.

David joined the Daily Mirror from the Daily Express in Manchester, where he had been a very successful district reporter. In the 60’s he joined the Daily Mirror’s New York bureau, alongside Ralph Champion, John Smith, Syd Young, Gordon Gregor, Brian Hitchen and Malcolm Keogh. When David returned to London he became a sports feature writer for the Daily Mirror, but he had so enjoyed his time in America that he returned there to work as a reporter on the National Enquirer in Florida. He became their top globe-trotting correspondent and produced a string of exclusives.

For almost two years he covered the baffling twists and turns of the police and FBI investigation into the death of six-year-old child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey, found strangled at her home in Boulder, Colorado on Christmas Day in 1996.

In 2001 David himself became front page news when he was exposed to the same deadly Anthrax bacteria that had killed picture editor Bob Stevens when some of it was posted to the National Enquirer headquarters in Boca Raton, Florida. After receiving an antidote, David quarantined at home, with the world’s press and television crews camped out on his front lawn in the Florida city of Atlantis.

A keen long distance runner, David wrote for sports magazines after retiring from the Enquirer. A devoted family man, he leaves wife Carole, daughters Kirsty and Katya and four grand children.

With thanks to PLAIN JOHN SMITH

By BILL ROWNTREE: In 1975 I worked with David Wright a few times, after he returned from the New York Office and before he returned to the USA. Our first job together was one of the strangest I ever did for the Mirror. Editor Mike Molloy sent David and I off to Uganda to get the story: “Idi Amin in his own words”.

The dictator and despot, not content with kicking the East African Indians out of Uganda, now threatened to execute university lecturer Dennis Hills by firing squad for calling the president a “village tyrant”. Idi complained that the British press never reported him accurately, and Mike’s idea was that we get to Idi and just take down everything he says word-for-word. It would have been hilarious, except that Idi had banned all Brit journos from Uganda, even the ones that wanted to publish his story.

We eventually got to Idi Amin at the Uganda Embassy (in Kinshasa, Zaire in those days). A day I will never forget. Idi was addressing the Embassy staff and during a short pause, David spoke up. “President Amin, do you have a message for the people of Britain?”

Idi looked completely startled and did not notice me shooting pictures. “Who are you?” asked a Zairean official sitting next to Idi. He looked very senior and we later found out he was the Foreign Minister.  “We’re from the Daily Mirror,” replied David. Idi looked at us, eyes filled with extreme hatred. “You’se de people been saying all dem bad things about me,” said Idi, in his inimitable and unmistakable style.

As Idi spoke I was visualising life in the local prison – that is if Idi did not have us shot first. David smiled graciously and saved our lives, saying: “Oh no, sir, that’s the Daily Express. We’re on your side, and we’ve flown here from London just to tell your story.”

Idi preened somewhat, and even raised a smile. He kept talking for another few minutes, then stopped abruptly and swept out of the Embassy with his entourage without another glance in our direction.

There was no way I could send my pictures, but after a long struggle, David eventually got his story across to the Mirror copytakers. At least we had got to Idi as Mike wanted.

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