We welcomed John Simpson as our guest at Chaplain's Chat

5th February 2020
Chaplain's Chat with Canon Mountford and John Simpson

Canon Brian Mountford's guest at our Hilary Term's Chaplain's Chat was his former neighbour and BBC World Affairs Editor, John Cody Fidler-Simpson CBE. They discussed John's religious views, the ethics of war, and broadcasting.

John's working life has been spent at the BBC. He has reported from more than 120 countries, including many war zones. Having seen executions and massacres and been caught up in bombings when he lost colleagues, John felt the need to find a philosophical framework in which he could put such experiences. For him, the church offers the sense of peace that he was seeking.

As a journalist, John said his mission was to report events honestly and accurately. The ability to see what is really going on, and to be honest about it, is crucial to the role. However, this can be a challenge when external actors have an agenda they want to push, for example by casting two opposing sides in the roles of purely good and evil forces. He said the work carries risks, but interviewing dictators, as he has done, is an acceptable risk, because threatening foreign journalists would not be in their interests. The skill is in managing the situation and learning how to get answers to key questions.

This fascinating talk finished with questions from the audience, before they thanked John Simpson and Canon Mountford, Chaplain and Supernumerary Fellow of St Hilda's, for the evening.