LONDON — Investigative television journalist Sue Lloyd-Roberts, who won an Emmy for her reporting in 2011, has died at the age of 64. Lloyd-Roberts had a reputation for going to places other journalist were reluctant to go to and tackling difficult subjects.
“She went to dangerous places to give a voice to people who otherwise would not be heard,” BBC director general Tony Hall said. “She was quite simply a remarkable woman who got remarkable stories. She will be deeply missed.”
Lloyd-Roberts specialized in getting into countries where press freedom was limited and which were difficult to enter for Western journalists, such as North Korea, Tibet, the former Soviet Union, Myanmar during the period of army rule, and Syria at the start of the civil war. She often had to lie about her true identity, shoot her reports in secret and smuggle out the film.
In 2012, she told Variety how she had prepared for her trip to Homs — the so-called “capital of the Syrian revolution” — the previous year, when she posed as a Byzantium scholar.
“I arrange my belongings in such a way that there is absolutely no evidence on me that I am a journalist,” she says. “Everything has to be sanitized. Laptops have to be prepared, with my cover story intact. Every time you are undercover, you have to assume that you’re going to be arrested any day.”
Lloyd-Roberts was educated at Cheltenham Ladies’ College and St Hilda’s College, Oxford. She worked as a journalist for ITN before joining the BBC, where she focused on stories concerning human rights abuses around the world.
During her career, she was sentenced in her absence in China to seven years in prison for her reporting on the trade in human organs that had been harvested to order from prisoners, and she was one of the first British journalists to report on female genital mutilation and so-called “honor killings.”
She reported from many war zones, dodging snipers’ bullets. She told the Daily Mail: “I remember a brush with death in Bosnia, while travelling in a convoy to a Muslim village being besieged by Serbs, who opened fire on us. In those situations you tend to either scream or pray. But I picked up my camera,” she said. She had been imprisoned so many times that she joked that she was thinking of compiling a “Good Jail Guide.”
She received the European Women of Achievement Award in 1995, won an Emmy for outstanding feature story in a regularly scheduled newscast in 2011 for reporting from North Korea, and was honored by the British government with two awards, an MBE and then a CBE for services to journalism.
Lloyd-Roberts, who had acute myeloid leukaemia, died on Tuesday at University College Hospital, London, following complications from a stem cell transplant. She was married to BBC producer Nick Guthrie.