Richard Lloyd Parry
Richard Lloyd Parry (born 1969) is a British foreign correspondent and writer. He is the Asia Editor of The Times of London, based in Tokyo, and is the author of the non-fiction books In the Time of Madness and People Who Eat Darkness: The Fate of Lucie Blackman.
He was born in Southport, Merseyside and was educated at Merchant Taylors' School, Crosby and Oxford University. His interest in the Far East was sparked by a trip to Japan in 1986 that was awarded to him as a prize whilst appearing on the UK TV quiz show Blockbusters.
Career in journalism
In 1995, he became Tokyo correspondent of the British newspaper The Independent and began reporting from other countries in Asia. In 1998 he covered the fall of President Suharto in Indonesia, and the violence which followed the independence referendum in East Timor. In 2002, he moved to The Times. Altogether he has worked in twenty-seven countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea, Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, Kosovo and Macedonia.
While covering the aftermath of the invasion of Afghanistan in November 2001, he recovered a pair of Osama bin-Laden's underpants from a residential compound near the city of Jalalabad. The following month he was one of a small group of reporters to travel to the village of Kama Ado, south of Jalalabad, which had been destroyed, along with its inhabitants, by a US Air Force attack - despite claims by the Pentagon that "nothing happened". His report was the inspiration for a song by the American singer-songwriter David Rovics.
In April 2003, he was the first to report that the rescue of Private Jessica Lynch, the US soldier reportedly rescued during the war against Saddam Hussein in Iraq, was not the heroic story told by the US military, but a staged operation that alarmed patients and the doctors who had struggled to save her life.
In November 2009, he was accused by a group of Thai politicians of the crime of lèse-majesté, or insulting the monarchy, over an interview which he conducted with the deposed prime minister of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra.
In September 2010, he and Davd McNeill of The Independent were briefly arrested in North Korea, after discovering a secret street market in the capital Pyongyang The incident inspired a controversy on the website NK News. Lloyd Parry defended McNeill and himself from accusations that they misrepresented the situation in North Korea and put their local guides at risk of punishment.
In 2005, he was named Foreign Correspondent of the Year in the UK's What The Papers Say Awards for his coverage of the Indian ocean tsunami and his interview with Tsutomu Yamaguchi, survivor of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
To date, he has published two non-fiction books.
In the Time of Madness was published in 2005. As well as presenting an eye-witness account of the events leading up to and following the end of the Suharto regime, it also dramatised the personal crisis of a young reporter, Lloyd Parry, facing the perils and excitements of death and violence. Lloyd Parry began visiting Indonesia in the late 1990s, and witnessed much of the violence that preceded and followed the fall of Suharto, including headhunting and cannibalism on the island of Borneo.
In September 1999 when he was covering the referendum on independence in East Timor, he was one of a small group of journalists who took sanctuary in the United Nations compound in Dili as it was surrounded by murderous pro-Indonesia militiamen. The book describes how Lloyd Parry's early confidence quickly turned to fear, and his guilt and shame after escaping from East Timor on an Australian evacuation flight. "I imagined that these experiences had imparted something to my character, an invisible shell which would stand me in good stead", he wrote. "But then I went to East Timor, where I discovered that such experience is never externalised, only absorbed, and that it builds up inside one, like a toxin. In East Timor, I became afraid, and couldn’t control my fear. I ran away, and afterwards I was ashamed."
In the Time of Madness was shortlisted for a Dolman Best Travel Book Award in 2006.
People Who Eat Darkness: The Fate of Lucie Blackman was published in February 2011 and tells the story of a young British woman who was killed and dismembered in Japan in 2000; of the man accused of killing her, Joji Obara; of the controversial involvement of her family in the effort to find her; and of the ten-year-long trial which followed. During Lloyd Parry's lengthy reporting of the case, Obara unsuccessfully sued him for libel in a Tokyo court. Although it was impossible to make a direct link to Obara, Lloyd Parry also received a mysterious package containing covertly taken surveillance photographs of him, and a document encouraging members of Japan's ultra-nationalist right wing to "deal with" him for his reporting of the Japanese imperial family.
Before publication of People Who Eat Darkness, the book received praise from novelists such as Chris Cleave, Mo Hayder, Julie Myerson, David Peace and Minette Walters. It was described by Blake Morrison in The Guardian as "a compelling book, 10 years in the making, rich in intelligence and insight." In the Daily Mail, Bel Mooney called it "an extraordinary book which stands as far above the ‘true crime’ label as 'Paradise Lost' does above the category 'verse'."
- "How to stay sane when the world goes mad" The Soft Copy, accessed 21 February 2011
- Lloyd Parry, Richard (24 November 2001). "Bin Laden's private life revealed amid rubble". The Independent (Jalalabad).
- "A village is destroyed. And America says nothing happened" The Independent, 4 December 2001
- "So who really did save Private Jessica?" The Times, 16 April 2003
- Philp, Catherine "Richard Lloyd Parry and Thaksin Shinawatra accused of lèse-majesté" "The Times", 11 November 2009
- Lloyd Parry, Richard (27 September 2010). "Secret market exposes North Korea food shortages". The Times.
- Farrell, Tad "Undercover 'Journalism' in the DPRK "NK News", 19 October 2010
- Lloyd Parry, Richard (6 August 2005). "To Hell and back". The Times.
- Lloyd Parry, Richard "Lucie Blackman, Joji Obara and me" The Times, 12 February 2011
- Morrison, Blake  "The Guardian", 19 February 2011
- Mooney, Bel "Murder, human frailties and a journey to the heart of darkness", Daily Mail, 25 February 2011