Mark Anthony Paul Seddon (born 7 October 1962) is a British journalist, and former United Nations Correspondent for al Jazeera English TV. He is also a former editor of the Labour Party associated Tribune. In 2014 he will become a speechwriter for the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon.
Education and early life
The son of a British army officer, Seddon went to Dauntsey's School, an independent co-educational boarding school in the village of West Lavington in Wiltshire. He studied Development Studies at the University of East Anglia, where in 1984 he was elected president of the Union of UEA Students.
Seddon currently writes for amongst others, The Guardian, The Independent, Daily Mail, The Spectator, New Statesman, Private Eye, The Oldie, Tribune, Country Life, 'Big Think' (New York) and The National (Abu Dhabi). He was formerly the New York City-based United Nations correspondent for Al Jazeera English, having helped set up and run the first ever Aljazeera English TV New York Bureau.
He has reported for the BBC from inside Iraq, North Korea and China, as well as for Sky TV from Yemen and for Al Jazeera English from North Korea, Syria, Dr Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia and Haiti. Seddon also reported regularly from the United Nations and from the White House, and has lectured widely in North America and the UK. He has been a Diarist for the London Evening Standard and has been a frequent contributor to The Guardian, The Independent, The Times, New Statesman and Private Eye. He was an early guest on Have I Got News For You, and has appeared as a commentator on numerous UK and US television and radio programmes, including Newsnight, Channel 4 News, Breakfast with Frost, The Politics Show and the Today programme.
He was the first foreign reporter to broadcast live from Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, in 2006, soon after performing the first trans Atlantic 'live' from New York to Doha for al Jazeera English TV at the time of that Networks' launch.
He was also the first to reveal that 'extraordinary rendition' may have taken place on the British owned Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia in 2003. He repeated the claims for al Jazeera English TV, shortly before the then Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, admitted that extraordinary rendition had indeed taken place, using the island of Diego Garcia. Seddon has campaigned for justice for the Chagossians of the British Indian Ocean Territory for over twenty years. More recently, he has been active in the campaign for new elections in the Maldives, following the toppling of that country's first democratic President, Mohamed Nasheed in a coup in 2012.
Seddon became editor of Tribune in 1993, a job he kept until 2004. He was elected to the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party as a Grassroots Alliance candidate in 1997, gaining the highest share of the vote and remained an NEC member until 2005.
Seddon tried to find a parliamentary seat and stood in the safe Conservative seat of Buckingham in the 2001 General Election against John Bercow. In 2002, he was controversially removed from the shortlist to be Labour's candidate in the Ogmore by-election, a process that was repeated in 2010 when he sought selection for the Labour seat of Stoke-on-Trent Central. During the 1992 General Election, he worked for Gordon Brown and served for five years on the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Economic Policy Commission.
Seddon was a vocal critic of the last Labour government in the UK, particularly over the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. He also opposed Britain's involvement in the war in Afghanistan from the outset – one of the reasons his candidature was blocked in the Ogmore constituency. He backed Mayor of London Ken Livingstone's ultimately successful attempts to be readmitted to the Labour Party. He has written a book, Standing for Something – Life in the Awkward Squad about his time as a dissenter within New Labour and as a foreign TV reporter.
After leaving the Labour Party National Executive Committee in 2005, he became the United Nations and New York City correspondent for Al Jazeera English, before returning to the UK to continue as Aljazeera English TV's Diplomatic Correspondent.
Seddon was director of People's Pledge, a political campaign that seeks a referendum in the United Kingdom on the European Union, for its founding in 2011. He later became National Spokesman for People's Pledge.
He lives in Buckinghamshire, and is a keen naturalist and gardener.
- "Seddon 'fury' over by-election snub". BBC. 8 January 2002. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
- Mark Seddon (16 March 2005). "How I was kippered by my party". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
- Stephen Brook (11 May 2005). "Al-Jazeera hires ex-Tribune editor". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
- "The Launch of The People's Pledge". People's Pledge. 15 March 2011. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
- "Key Campaign Team". People's Pledge. Retrieved 24 June 2012.
- Adam Barnett (18 December 2013). "Tower Hamlets mayor's speechwriter leaves to work for United Nations general secretary Ban Ki-Moon". East London Advertiser. Retrieved 21 December 2013.
- Mark Seddon's blog, Comment is free, Guardian Unlimited
- As I Please – Dispatches from the corridors of British power, Mark Seddon, Big Think
- Mark Seddon interview, Logos, Spring 2004
- Mark Seddon and Martin Rowson (26 September 2011). Standing for Something. Biteback Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84954-123-7.
|Editor of Tribune