Isabel Hilton

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Isabel Hilton, OBE
Web Summit 2018 - Modum - Day 3, November 8 DF1 2695 (44868628205).jpg
Born (1949-11-25) 25 November 1949 (age 73)
Aberdeen, Scotland
Alma materUniversity of Edinburgh

Isabel Nancy Hilton OBE (born 25 November 1949) is a Scottish journalist and broadcaster, based in London.

Early life[edit]

Hilton was educated at Edinburgh University, where she studied Chinese to post-graduate level. As Secretary of the entirely non-subversive China-Scottish Association, based at her University, Hilton was placed on MI5's "Christmas Tree" list, which prevented her from employment with the BBC in 1976.[1] By the time the issue had been resolved, Hilton had become a feature writer for the Daily Express.


Having been the Latin American affairs editor at the Sunday Times, she chose not to move to Wapping with her paper, and joined The Independent in 1986, filling the equivalent post there. Hilton joined The Guardian in 1997, where she contributed a regular column.

Hilton presented The World Tonight (1995–98) on BBC Radio 4, and from 1999 presented Nightwaves on BBC Radio 3. Concurrently from March 2005 to July 2007, she was editor and then editor-in-chief of the[2] website and is now the editor of Chinadialogue and the Third Pole.

In 2019, Hilton delivered the annual James Cameron memorial lecture at City, University of London[3] on the subject: Journalism with Chinese characteristics: reflections on media in the new era.

Personal life[edit]

Hilton is married to Neal Ascherson, with whom she has a son and a daughter. She was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2009 Birthday Honours.[4]


  • The Search for the Panchen Lama, W. W. Norton & Company, 2000, ISBN 0393049698.


  1. ^ See Mark Hollingsworth and Richard Norton-Taylor Blacklist: The Inside Story of Political Vetting, London: Hoagarth Press, 1988, p.107-8. The relevant extract (Chapter 5) is online here. See also David Leigh and Paul Lashmar "The Blacklist in Room 105", The Observer, 18 August 1985, p.9
  2. ^ Isabel Hilton "openDemocracy: a farewell salute" Archived 2 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine, openDemocracy 17 July 2007. Retrieved on 13 April 2008.
  3. ^ "James Cameron Memorial Lecture". City, University of London. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  4. ^ "No. 59090". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 June 2009. p. 25.

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