Tributes to journalist killed in blast

PRIME Minister Gordon Brown has led the tributes to an East Anglian journalist who was killed working in Afghanistan.

PRIME Minister Gordon Brown last night led the tributes to a Norfolk-born journalist who was killed working in Afghanistan.

Described as a “fine, fearless and skilled writer”, Rupert Hamer, who began his career at the EADT's sister paper the Eastern Daily Press in the late 1980s, was working as the Sunday Mirror's defence correspondent when he died following a blast north-west of Nawa.

It is thought he is the first British journalist to be killed in Afghanistan.

The 39-year-old father of three young children, who lived in London, was embedded with US marines when they were caught in the explosion while on patrol on Saturday , which also injured the newspaper's photographer Phil Coburn and killed a marine and an Afghan soldier.

Mr Hamer, who went to Town Close School in Norwich before boarding at Gresham's School in Holt, regularly returned to Norfolk, where members of his family, including his father Nick, whom he was very close to, still live.

Paul Durrant, the EDP's former assistant editor, said: “I remember Rupert as a fresh-faced news desk assistant at the EDP, running errands and getting coffees, but always passionate about newspaper journalism, and always determined to succeed in his dream of becoming a reporter.”

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Former EDP reporter Simon Stevens, who worked with Mr Hamer at the paper's Thetford office and now works for Suffolk police, said: “He was a very good writer and very well read. He was an extremely likeable person with an infectious sense of humour.”

Mr Hamer, who had been in Afghanistan since New Year's Eve, had been the Sunday Mirror's defence correspondent since 2004 and had covered the armed forces across the Middle East and central Asia, the Oman, Bahrain, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Nicknamed “Corporal Hamer”, his personality and writing skills helped him bring back stories from some of the most dangerous parts of the world.

Prime Minister Mr Brown said: “I was deeply saddened by this tragic news, and my heartfelt thoughts and sympathies are with the families, friends and colleagues of Rupert and Philip.

“Their courage, skill and dedication to reporting from the frontline was incredibly important and ensured that the world could see and read about our heroic troops.”

Mr Hamer started at the EDP from school in 1988 and worked as a runner before completing the in house training scheme.

He put his career on hold while he attended Leeds University before returning to journalism at the Bournemouth Evening Echo, where he met his wife Helen, a fellow reporter.

After moving to London in 1997, it is thought he worked for the Daily Mirror before moving to the Sunday Mirror.

Tina Weaver, Sunday Mirror editor, said: “He was a fine, fearless, and skilled writer who joined the paper 12 years ago.

“Affectionately known as Corporal Hamer in the office, he was a gregarious figure, a wonderful friend who was hugely popular with his colleagues.”

Mr Hamer is survived by two brothers, one of whom lives in Australia and two sisters as well as his father, who is believed to be in London with Mrs Hamer and the children who are aged six, five and 19 months.