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15 August 2005

Natural-born writer

Robin Cook: a tribute

By Anthony Howard

Robin Cook first became formally associated with the NS in March 1974, when, as a 28-year-old newly elected MP, he accepted my invitation to become what we called our “parliamentary adviser”. Despite that rather pompous title, the duties were hardly onerous, involving turning up every Friday morning to an editorial conference. Robin was immediately at home in the cut-and-thrust atmosphere. An articulate and forceful thinker on his feet, he had no difficulty in putting his views across. They did not always coincide with the views of the paper (he was in those days anti-Europe and pro-CND), but he generally accepted his failure to convince us with good grace. Not exactly clubbable – I can’t recall his ever coming to the pub for a drink – he nevertheless soon became a valued member of the NS family.

My only complaint was that he was notoriously unpunctual, sometimes turning up just as our discussions were concluding. But that was balanced by his being a natural writer. In the mid-1970s, he contributed some very distinguished articles to the paper on widely differing topics. I remember in particular a piece about Persia under the shah which, I proudly recall, earned a formal remonstrance from the then diplomatic representative of the Peacock Throne, who even summoned me to his grand residence in Princes Gate to deliver it. Adequate proof that Robin had got things exactly right.

Anthony Howard NS editor, 1972-78

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