The sports journalist who broke the news that Ron Atkinson was making racist remarks when he thought he was off-air during a television football commentary has died.
Charlie Norton was 39. He died in a fall from a cliff while in Morocco.
Norton began his career on the Kent and Sussex Courier in the late 1990s, after leaving university. After a short time with BBC Worldwide he joined the Daily Telegraph as a trainee, working on the sports desk and on the motoring section.
In April 2004, Norton was attending a wedding in Dubai when he was watching an ITV broadcast of a Chelsea game in the Champions League, and Atkinson was heard making inflammatory racist remarks about Marcel Desailly, the French international and World Cup-winning Chelsea defender.
Although ITV’s transmission had ended in the UK, Atkinson’s remarks were still broadcast to several countries in the Middle East. Norton filed the story to the Telegraph from his hotel, and Atkinson, the former West Brom, Manchester United and Villa manager, resigned shortly afterwards.
“Big Ron” lost not only his broadcasting career but also his Guardian column.
Norton later went freelance, specialising in adventure journalism and he also lectured at the London School of Journalism. In 2009 he published The Bumper Book of Bravery, a collection of tales of courage from the mythical to the modern age. In 2013 he launched Vigour Mag.
He also served on the development board of the British Exploring Society and co-founded Flying for Heroes, backed by the Help for Heroes charity.
According to reports, Norton went on an early morning stroll in the city of Tangier to watch the sun rise when he fell to his death. He leaves behind a wife, Morag, and two children, a three-year-old son and a 10-month-old daughter.
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