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Barry May - the conscience of Reuters

After a long absence from Britain, I was a little taken aback 11 years ago when Barry May asked me to join a Baron Editorial Advisory Board he was calling into existence. Even more surprised that, amid a bevy of former Reuters
heavyweights, he asked me to take the Chair. 

Involvement with The Baron has drawn me back into a loose-knit Reuters family committed to great principles of accurate, honest and fearless journalism. In his career with Reuters and editing The Baron, Barry showed
why these qualities have brought Reuters success and admiration around the world.

Barry was careful to emphasise the “Advisory” nature of our Board. That is, he was free to ignore our advice if he so wished. It was a wise protection of his editorial independence: we never had reason to contest it. 

Perhaps what he really looked for was moral support in challenging the Reuters of today. For one of his journalistic qualities was readiness to tell uncomfortable truths – again in the good old Reuters tradition. He did not hesitate to hold the present incumbents’ feet to the fire when he detected backsliding or incompetence. Fairly, he also hailed the many successes of today’s protagonists.

Associating with Barry required the two of us from time to indulge in personal reminiscences – his somewhere up the Khyber Pass and mine from dingy recesses behind the Iron Curtain. Thus did we consume a good few bottles of
fine wine (which we could eventually no longer afford). 

Barry handed over to his successor, Barry Moody, at the Baron’s Bash on 18th March this year. The Baron published delightful pictures of the two Barrys sitting beaming together. Gratifyingly, Helen Womack, also with a
distinguished Reuters career behind her, is collaborating with the new Editor. 

So the Baron is in good hands, and stronger than ever. Barry May is no longer with us, but his legacy is set to flourish for years to come. ■