Having spent over 50 years at the BBC, John Simpson is now its World Affairs Editor. He has reported from more than 120 countries, including thirty war zones, and has interviewed most world leaders.
Simpson joined the BBC as a subeditor in radio news in 1966 at the age of 25. Five years later, he became a reporter for the BBC. On his first day, the then-Prime Minister Harold Wilson punched him in the stomach for asking if Wilson would call an election.
In the 1970s, Simpson was appointed political editor of the BBC, but found his calling in foreign correspondence. His first assignment was covering the war in Angola, which he describes as some of the most terrifying of his career.
Since then, he has covered the Tiananmen Square Massacre in Beijing, the 1991 Gulf War, the Kosovo War in Yugoslavia, the release of Nelson Mandela, and the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. He has also interviewed many world leaders, including Margaret Thatcher, Saddam Hussein, Nelson Mandela, and the Ayatollah Khomeini, whom he traveled with in 1979.
Simpson has been honoured with a CBE as part of the Gulf War Honours list in 1991. He has also won two BAFTAs for his news coverage and an International Emmy for his reporting of the fall of Kabul in 2001. He was named the Royal Society’s Journalist of the Year twice, and has also received a Peabody award.
Despite a lengthy career, retirement is far from his thoughts describing journalism as “a way of life”.
John Simpson attended One Young World 2015 Bangkok and One Young World 2016 Ottawa. In Ottawa he delivered the keynote speech for the Peace & Security Plenary Session- Are young people the key to countering extremism?