The death of Roddy Scott: the story always mattered

  • - By Sheri Laizer
  • 01/10/2002 00:00:00

Roddy Scott (31), a British free-lance video cameraman, was killed in the Russian republic of Ingushetia. Russian soldiers found his body on September 26 in Ingushetia’s Galashki region, near the border with Chechnya, following clashes between Russian forces and a group of Chechen fighters. Roddy has a specific interest on Kurds and produced several stories on the Kurds.

A few short weeks ago, Roddy phoned me and said he was planning to go after his Chechen story again…

No, we didn’t work on the Chechen issue together. We collaborated on Kurdish matters: drawing up bids for news and documentary films, plotting itineraries, pursuing visas…

On the last occasion, we were all geared up to go off into northern Iraq. Roddy and I shared a pen to fill out out Iranian visa applications at High Street Ken. Tube before walking off in the sunshine to deliver them to the Embassy. We left with a glow of hope. Later that afternoon, however, we learned that our key contact from the PUK who was to facilitate getting us across the Iran-Iraq border had just left Europe and gone back to Iraqi Kurdistan. The proposal collapsed. Roddy went off again in quest of the Chechens. That was how it was.

It can happen to anyone at any time. Naturally, the odds increase when you work on thorny issues in unfriendly places - stories on Kurds, on Chechens, and not so long ago, on the East Timorese. Today, happy for him, Xanana Gusmao has a country to lead; the Kurds remain embroiled in dubious geopolitical calculations and factional intrigues. As for the Chechens, well, ask Roddy. Except Roddy has not tasted the fruit of his efforts in bringing back his story to tell us…

Roddy’s prime concern was always for the integrity of the story. I stand by him for that. We assessed the risks together in the most practical of fashions. I always knew where he stood and he stood where I was standing. Dedication to complex - and in this case - elusive, truths.

“See you when I get back! “ Roddy had laughed down the end of the phone. He was smoking as usual, inhaling between excited sentences and thinking aloud.

With the tragic death of Roddy Scott we have lost a friend and correspondent devoted to the integrity of his story.

Sheri Laizer

is a broadcast journalist, writer, researcher and cameraperson who has worked on numerous news and documentary films including Michael Ignatieff’s "Blood and belonging : Dreaming Kurdistan", BBC Primedia 1993, etc., and is also author of "Into Kurdistan-Frontiers under Fire" (Zed Books, 1991) "Martyrs, Traitors and Patriots - Kurdistan after the Gulf War" (Zed Books 1996).

  • - By Sheri Laizer
  • 01/10/2002 00:00:00