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Recollections: John Miles

19 May 2017

Anthony Richmond writes:

AS A retired journalist, I have much reason to be grateful for the life and work of former Chief Press Officer John Miles (News, 21 April).

When Archbishop Michael Ramsey visited the beleaguered church in apartheid South Africa in 1970, John and I struck up a good working relationship from the start. He asked me not to press the Archbishop too strongly for com­­ments about apartheid at first. Dr Ramsey wanted to be as discreet as possible, not showing any political bias, while he attended the Anglican centenary celebrations and held meet­­ings with senior people in­­cluding Government leaders. In return, John promised that at the end, before they returned to London, all that would change. The Press could question Ramsey as fiercely as we liked and the Arch­bishop would speak out in no un­­certain terms about what he had seen and heard there.

John was true to his word, and, additionally, gave me an exclusive interview with the Archbishop about his undercover meetings with banned anti-apartheid activists, meet­­ings which the authorities had tried to prevent and conceal. The local publicity given to the Arch­bishop’s visits and his sub­­sequent outspoken condem­nation of govern­­ment policy was im­­mensely cheering to victims and opponents of apart­­heid, both Chris­tian and non-Chris­­tian.

Years later, John was sympathetic and, with his wife, Judy, hospitable in helping me and my family to settle and find work in the UK.

A good man; may he rest in peace.

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