DOMINICK Harrod, who has died aged 71, was a much-respected economics journalist who had an uncanny knack of explaining the true state of the nation’s finances at times of crisis.
As City Editor of the Yorkshire Post in the early 1990s, he provided insightful reporting on the attempts of John Major’s government to regain its poise following Britain’s exit from the ERM – and the subsequent dismissal of Norman Lamont, the then dismissal.
Yet Mr Harrod made his reputation in far more challenging times. He was BBC Television’s economics correspondent in the 1970s – one of the figures responsible for explaining the ramifications of the ‘three day week’ and then Denis Healey’s tenureship of the Treasury – and economics editor on BBC Radio in the 1980s, when he became a key figure on the Today programme.
As Today presenter James Naughtie observed earlier this week, his former colleague was a highly professional broadcaster who had a natural aptitude for making economics simple while retaining the knack to spice up his reports with political gossip.
In two decades with the BBC, Mr Harrod interviewed every serving Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer and leading politician.
Born in Oxford in August 1941 – his father Sir was the biographer of John Maynard Keynes – he later became programme director at St George’s House, Windsor Castle, an institution established by the Duke of Edinburgh as a place where influential people meet to discuss matters of mutual and national interest under “Chatham House rules”.
His journalistic brilliance saw him become president of the Chartered Institute of Journalists in 1994-95 following his stint with the Yorkshire Post.
Members recall a much-loved character and excellent company, whose good humour and skills a raconteur enlivened Institute events, both formal and social. CIoJ president Charlie Harris said: “He will be greatly missed by all of us who knew him, and enjoyed and valued his friendship and company.”
Institute Vice-President Paul Leighton, a former colleague of Mr Harrod’s at the BBC, said: “I am so greatly saddened by this news.
“Dominick was a good friend and colleague at Broadcasting House and, of course, a long-standing member of the Institute’s Broadcasting Division.
“I know many will recall his entertaining appearances as economics editor on BBC TV and radio, particularly his Budget commentaries for the Jimmy Young Show, where he always managed to humanise Budget statements and economic data.
“A first-rate journalist and broadcaster and a great character.”
Past President Robin Morgan, who worked with Mr Harrod on the Yorkshire Post, said: “I remember one contribution Dom made to the Jimmy Young programme, minutes after I had broadcast a contribution on truculent miners. Britain’s balance of payments were down the pan, yet again, and Jimmy asked Dom: ‘Why are we £100m in debt? ‘Simple,’ said Dom. ‘British Airways bought a new Jumbo jet last month.” Problem explained!”