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Obituary: Michael Clayton – former BBC TV correspondent and Horse & Hound editor who started his career at the A&T





TRIBUTES have been paid to journalist Michael Clayton who started his career at the A&T and went on to become a BBC war correspondent and long-standing editor of equestrian magazine Horse and Hound.

After devoting much of his career to the written word, Michael’s final work was a memoirs, My Life In The News, which was published just months before he died aged 88.

Michael moved to Rutland in 1988, further cultivating his lifelong love of riding as chair of the Cottesmore Hunt, one of several roles he held with rural groups.

Michael worked his way up from cub reporter to some of the biggest roles in UK journalism
Michael worked his way up from cub reporter to some of the biggest roles in UK journalism

He called Morcott home for the last 20 years, but was born and grew up in Bournemouth.

His break in journalism came as an apprentice news reporter at the A&T, based in New Milton. Having learned the ropes, Michael made the big career move to Fleet Street in 1954 to work on the London Evening News.

In 1961, he was hired by the Evening Standard where he covered iconic events such as the Great Train Robbery and the Profumo Affair, and after three years became deputy editor.

Michael Clayton's car was fired on in Cambodia during his time as BBC war correspondent
Michael Clayton's car was fired on in Cambodia during his time as BBC war correspondent

Within a year of breaking in to regional television as news editor for Southern TV, Michael beat 1,000 other applicants to be BBC staff news correspondent.

A war reporting role with the BBC followed, covering Middle Eastern hotspots as well as the Vietnam War.

A reluctant war reporter, Michael changed tack again in 1973 when he became editor of Horse and Hound – just the magazine’s third in 89 years at the time. He held this treasured position for 23 years before retirement.

He continued to write and authored around 25 books, fitting them around his other interests, particularly equestrianism and bridge.

Michael's memoirs were published just months before he died
Michael's memoirs were published just months before he died

Jane Wallace, the 1988 Burghley Horse Trials winner and former committee member at the event, remembered Michael for his depth of knowledge during his time with Horse and Hound.

She said: “As chairman of the British Horse Society, he also devoted his time to the less glamorous aspects of equestrianism for the widespread benefit of grassroots riding and horse welfare.

“And unlike most people in his position, Michael was an extremely competent and brave horseman across country. With Michael’s passing, the horse world has lost a true friend.”

Michael was a champion of press freedom throughout his life
Michael was a champion of press freedom throughout his life

Marcus Witt, of Stamford Bridge Club, added: “He was with us in the early days when we were based at the hospital premises on the Ryhall Road. We will miss his affable nature, engaging personality and calm presence.”

Fellow Morcott villager Eric Hazelwood was asked to conduct Michael’s funeral service and said his friend’s death was a loss to “many people whose lives he influenced and enhanced”.

“He was the most unassuming, kind and considerate man,” Eric said.

Michael developed connections with The Queen while editor of Horse and Hound
Michael developed connections with The Queen while editor of Horse and Hound

“Selflessly, he always showed interest in other people, never mentioning his own achievements, such was his consummate modesty.

“Despite his many connections with influential people, including the Queen and other members of the royal family, he was always modest and unassuming.”

Former Rutland County Council leader Edward Baines added: “I was so pleased to read his recent autobiography. I felt that it reflected the ‘real’ man, certainly the one I knew – sardonic at times, always keenly observant, and able to write and communicate with an enviable ease.”

Michael is survived by his wife Marilyn, two children from a previous marriage, Marcus and Maxine, and his step-daughter Georgina.



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