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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Friends and colleagues pay tribute to radio star Gavin Ford after his murder in Lebanon

Friends of Ford refused to disclose details of the murder before investigations were finalised

A picture taken in 2000 showing murdered British radio host Gavin Ford. Instagram
A picture taken in 2000 showing murdered British radio host Gavin Ford. Instagram

The murder of famed British radio host Gavin Ford sparked an outpouring of sadness late Monday, especially for close friends who said they just celebrated his 53rd birthday and were looking forward to spending the festive season with him.

“It was super hard. I have yet to come to terms with the fact that he is gone,” says Bechara Al Hajj who has known Ford for more than six years and was planning to meet the radio presenter over Christmas.

“If he died of natural causes, the news would have been more bearable. But someone intentionally ... end[ed] his life in this way. [This is] not acceptable,” he said.

Lebanese police have yet to disclose the details of the murder, which is believed to have taken place late Monday evening. Radio One broke the news yesterday on Facebook after colleagues reported him missing to police when he didn’t show up for work. Ford had just turned 53 on Monday.

Local media reported that Ford, who had lived in Lebanon for two decades, was strangled to death in his apartment in Beit Merry near the capital Beirut. He was allegedly handcuffed and beaten with a sharp object.

A spokesperson for Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces was not available for comment.

Bechara Al Hajj and Gavin Ford in Broumana in November 2014.

Rumours abounded concerning the motives behind the murder, but colleagues and close friends of Ford dismissed them as nothing but speculation and urged people to wait until the results of the investigation.

Ford started working for local radio station Radio One back in 1996. In a profile written by Lebanon traveller in 2017, he explained that he used to work in Cyprus before moving to Beirut.

“Radio One could actually be heard from there and I was fascinated by this station, in an exciting sounding country called Lebanon, playing all the newest songs long before we could get them”, he was quoted as saying. Ford had previously studied at the National Broadcasting School in the UK.

“He found his dream job in Lebanon. He used to listen to Radio One all the way from Cyprus,” Mr Hajj said. “He was super happy to come to Lebanon and create his show,” he said of 'Gavin Ford in the Morning'.

Friend and colleague Dan Harper remembered him as a “gentle and kind friend”, as well as a “wonderful professional”.

“He was very thorough in preparing his programme. He was sure to have the latest showbiz news and to sound different every day,” Mr Harper told The National.

Mr Harper said he will be organising a tribute to Ford to be broadcast simultaneously on six radios stations across the country, including Radio One.

Others remember him as a hot-headed, charismatic character. “Gavin loved to eat, so whenever we went to a restaurant, he was also really picky with his food. We loved watching him lose his cool over bad service, it was very funny”, says Lebanese singer and friend Xriss Jor. “He was very social and loved having his friends over at his house for movie nights”.

Ford was a popular figure on social media, often posting pictures of himself, friends and his dog Fred on Instagram. In the last picture, posted three days ago, he’s enjoying a bubble bath. “The perfect way to spend a rainy Saturday”, he wrote. He would also do occasional product placement and worked with companies such as supermarket chain Spinneys, CEO Michael Wright told The National.

UK ambassador to Lebanon Chris Rampling wrote on Twitter that he was “shocked and deeply saddened by the death of Gavin Ford, one of Lebanon’s most popular morning breakfast hosts. The thoughts of all at the Embassy are with his family, friends and colleagues at this terribly difficult time”.

Many fans expressed anger online as a picture proporting to be of his dead body was shared on social media and through Whatsapp.

“The photo and the homophobic coroner’s report of Gavin Ford circulating are disgusting. Shame on the lack of morals and empathy in our country. No respect for a dead man!”, tweeted Eli. It is unclear if the image was taken by the police.

Ford had become a fixture for many Lebanese who grew up listening to his voice as they went to school or university.

“Being in Beirut, you spend a lot of time in the car, and listening to Gavin became my morning ritual”, 28-year-old NRJ radio host Sarah Gharzeddine told The National. “There are many English hosts in Lebanon, but Gavin stood out. He was more Lebanese than I am. He loved living in this country”.

“It hurts to see how human life is nothing for some. Gavin has been entertaining us for years, I grew up listening to this guy”, tweeted news reporter Jessy Khalil.