Frank Gardner

Discussions on news and breaking news events including, BBC News, ITV News, Sky News
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Post by eagleeye » Tue Jun 15, 2004 7:16 pm

Well I have loads of respect for Nic Robertson. CNN lost members of Michael Holmes' (I apologise if I have his name wrong) crew to gunmen just south of Baghdad. They can't, at the time, have assessed that as an unacceptable risk I don't think. As you know, my favourite reporter DC also took substantial personal risks while reporting Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechyna etc (not to mention having been shot in Croatia)....but I like the way Nic Robertson puts it - assess the danger before moving. What I didn't like or agree with was the flat out statement that "no story is too dangerous to cover" as that is not true, otherwise - why did Simmo et al (I'm not picking on him btw) stay in their hotels when all hell was breaking loose in Fallujah and sent the brave Arab camera crews in there instead?.. OK answer my own q: because if they had showed up there then, they would have been kidnapped or killed and their security advisors told them not to do it and they obeyed. That's professional. I know the temptation to get an exclusive can be massive - look at poor Daniel Pearl for example. But I guess you have to remember that you owe it to not just yourself but your family not to do things which are, in the prevailing circumstances, bonkers.

To risk your life, and also let's remember of your cameraman too, in circumstances where you know you have a really good chance of being shot, kidnapped etc is nuts. Remember Beirut?? Journalists should bring us the story, not be the story. Sometimes that means waiting for the fire to burn a little slower before going in. I was reacting to the article (OK I do think Simmo's a bit macho-talkish these days), not to Nic Robertson as I didn't see the programme.

I didn't mean everyone should stay in London doing royal reporting. What a terrifying thought

Interesting re no armed guards as I'm almost sure I saw it on the Beeb website. I know no journalist of any repute would carry one, but thought their heavies might sometimes be forced to fire back to save everyone's skins. I know there's a big debate going on about it as the security contractors moan that the journos' ethics get in the way of common sense & them doing their job!!

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Post by Steven » Wed Jun 23, 2004 10:08 am

Quick foot note. As if to back up his words with action Nic Robertson has taken a little trip across to Saudi.

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Post by eagleeye » Wed Jun 23, 2004 11:45 am

Yes I saw that. CNN are also talking to lots of people in the Arab media about Iraq and the possibilities (or lack of) for 'democracy in the country'. Only half hour segments and very doable. Wakey wakey Sky?!

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Post by NEWSBOY2 » Thu Oct 28, 2004 3:47 pm

Just read off media guardian online that Frank Gardner might never walk again, and that really his career as a Correspondant is pretty much over for the moment. I always hoped we would see him back on our screens, its such a shame and cruel fate especially as it was at the peak of his career.

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Post by newswalker » Mon Jan 10, 2005 9:23 am

I do not know if this has yet been reported here but did anyone else happen to see the BBC's Security Correspondent Frank Gardner's interview on the BBC news recently regarding his shooting in Saudi Arabia in June? It was aired on the Today programme a few days ago. I have to admit when I first heard it I was pretty shocked - not only by what happened to Frank Gardner and poor Simon Cumbers - but also by the fact that Mr Gardner may not walk again. He told the interviewer John Humphry's that when he was shot, one of the bullets cut through some of his Spinal nerves and he is currently in a Spinal Injuries Unit suffering from paralysis and expecting another major operation. He is currently in a wheelchair and he said his chances of regaining the ability to fully walk is less than 50 per cent - and he said he is likely to become a wheelchair user. I once had the pleasure of meeting Mr Gardner and I really do hope he recovers quickly and smoothly. He said he wants to come back to the BBC in March to continue his job. I hope he does too because he is without doubt the best reporter bar none to report upon terrorism and the Middle East. I don't mean to sound cold - I really dont - but when he comes back to the BBC and is using a wheelchair, would he be able to report as he did before - ie going to places like the Middle East etc or would he be more involved in the UK - or even be a presenter from time to time like on the live forums. Anyway, regardless I hope he returns to full health very soon and gets back to the job he clearly loves.

His interview is here:>

And here:

You can't keep me off air, says shot BBC man

By Colin Freeman

A BBC journalist who was paralysed after being shot six times by terrorists in Saudi Arabia has vowed to return to work early next year, declaring: "You can't keep me off air."

In his first interview since the shooting in June, Frank Gardner, the corporation's security correspondent, said on the BBC's Today programme that the trauma of being riddled with bullets at point-blank range had affected only his body, not his mind.

"The weird thing is, being shot didn't actually hurt," said Mr Gardner, whose cameraman Simon Cumbers, 36, was killed in the same attack.

"It was a traumatic experience, but when I lay there ? I didn't know it at the time, but I had five bullets in me ? I was wide awake and conscious and thinking, 'Crikey, I've taken a lot of hits here, but I'm still alive, so I've got to stay alive for the sake of my family.' So I willed myself to stay on.

"Fortunately they didn't get to my brain; that remained intact. They didn't get to my head, thank God, I've had no flashbacks, post-traumatic stress disorder or waking up sweating in the night ? I've had none of that. I've been very lucky."

Mr Gardner, a fluent Arabic speaker and an expert on al-Qa'eda, is currently confined to a wheelchair and is receiving treatment at a special spinal injuries unit.

He is learning to walk again through the use of special rigid leg casts, although his chances of being fully mobile are less than 50 per cent.

He said that he could remember every second of the attack, which took place as he and Mr Cumbers attempted to film the Riyadh house of an al-Qa'eda supporter who had been shot by Saudi security forces.

"I saw in the faces of the gunmen absolute hatred; they had pressed the button of violence and nothing I tried to say to them in Arabic was going to dissuade them," Mr Gardner said.

"As far as they were concerned I was a heathen, a Western infidel who had come into their area and this was an opportunity to execute a Westerner. It was quite terrifying, as you can imagine.

"These people were hard-core militants, I don't think it would be fair to say they were paid-up members of al-Qaeda, but they were certainly sympathisers. These were people of the same mentality as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's people in Iraq."

After the gunmen drove off, Mr Gardner began crying out desperately for help, already aware that his legs seemed paralysed. To his dismay, locals in the western Suweidi district ? reputed to harbour supporters of Osama bin Laden ? appeared either unwilling or simply scared to be seen helping a Westerner.

Television footage of him lying injured in a pool of blood was later broadcast in Britain, highlighted vividly the agonising delays that he had to face before help arrived.

"It was a long time before anyone came and when they did they weren't any help at all. The local people ? very uncharacteristically for Muslims, who are normally fantastically good at helping people in trouble ? stood around and just discussed me.

"Eventually the crowd built up, and the police turned up, no ambulance, and they bundled me in a police car and took me off on an agonising journey to a pretty ropey hospital. By the time they got me to the operating theatre I was screaming for painkillers, which they gave me, then I went under the knife."

Mr Gardner said that he believed that if he had not managed to get an SOS message to the British Embassy, he was sure he would have died at the hands of inexperienced surgeons.

"They sent a very highly-qualified team of specialists from the King Faisal Hospital to rescue me, essentially, in this hospital and they said, 'Right, stop what you're doing, we're taking over.' I think if they hadn't come I would've been dead about an hour later."

Ironically, said Mr Gardner, Arab contacts later told him that his would-be assassins regretted shooting him.

"I am one of the few people who have tried to bother to explain what al-Qa'eda is about, and now they have taken me off the air for several months," he said.

"Initially their supporters thought it was great that they had hit the BBC because they got lots of publicity, but once they found out it was me they realised it was a bit of an own goal."

He admitted, though, that he had made a mistake by spending too long in the area they were filming in.

"We should have been there for five or 10 minutes; we were there for 30. I think somebody spotted us out of a window, phoned the militants and said, 'Hey, there are a couple of infidels down there filming. If you're quick, you'll get them'.

"They mounted a very professional operation. They cornered us with two cars, they hemmed us in, there was no way out. It was fortunate for them we came into the spider's lair, as it were, and we stayed too long."

Saudi officials believe that the gunmen may have been among those killed or captured during police operations later in June, during which they claim to have found a car used in the assassination attempt.

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Post by Orla » Sun Jan 16, 2005 1:43 pm

Its so sad to read just how horrific the attack upon Simon Cumbers and Frank Gardner was and to hear that Frank Gardner may not walk again. I remember hearing him recently on that interview saying he was very much looking forward to going back to work. I hope that Frank Gardner comes back to the BBC and continues his always excellent reports upon terrorism, Islam and the Middle East. He is one of the very few journalists to actually speak fluent Arabic and to fully understand the current security situation and the Middle East. It would be a shame if he doesnt return to his job just because he can no longer walk. He sounds like a man who has a passion for his job and I doubt that just being in a wheelchair will stop him. I wish him all the best for the future.

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Post by Orla » Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:05 pm

From the BBC News website:

Frank Update:

Speaking of correspondents, and taking a question slightly early, Stuart Smith from Auckland, New Zealand, writes: "When will Frank Gardner be back? We miss his Middle East insight. Please pass on our best wishes for a speedy recovery and return to the Beeb."

Frank recalled the horrendous attack on him and cameraman Simon Cumbers in Saudi Arabia in his article 'I looked into the face of the gunman' towards the end of last year.

The good news for all the followers of Frank's well-informed, incisive reporting is the BBC is hoping he will return to work around the middle of April, probably on a part-time basis at first.

So some good news for all those followers of Frank Gardner. Looking forward to his return>

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Post by Johnnie » Wed Apr 19, 2006 9:09 am Cumbers 'was unlawfully killed'

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Post by newswalker » Tue Aug 01, 2006 4:57 pm

He was introduced on the news today as the BBC's World Affairs Correspondent. Is he no longer the Security Correspondent? Is it not a little risky for him to be in Israel?

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Post by sky.dub » Tue Aug 01, 2006 9:12 pm

Why would it be risky...he's in a studio in Jerusalem.

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