Ludovic Kennedy

Ludovic Kennedy

Infobox Person

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name = Sir Ludovic Kennedy
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birth_place = Edinburgh, Scotland
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nationality = British
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occupation = journalist, broadcaster, politician and author
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spouse = Moira Shearer
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Sir Ludovic Henry Coverley Kennedy (born 3 November, 1919) is a British journalist, broadcaster, and author. He was knighted in 1994 for services to journalism.

Early life and Naval career

Kennedy was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, the son of a career Royal Navy officer, Edward Coverley Kennedy, and his wife, Rosalind Grant, daughter of Sir Ludovic Grant, 11th Baronet. He was a cousin of the Conservative politician Robert Boothby. He was schooled at Eton College (where he played in a jazz band with Humphrey Lyttelton) and was set for university when the Second World War broke out.

Kennedy's father, by then a 60-year-old retired captain, returned to the navy and was given command of HMS "Rawalpindi", a hastily militarised P&O steamship, known as an Armed Merchant Cruiser (AMC). While on patrol southeast of Iceland the "Rawalpindi" encountered the German battlecruiser "Scharnhorst". "Scharnhorst" sank "Rawalpindi"; of her 312 crew 275 (including her captain) were killed.

Ludovic Kennedy followed his father into the navy; he served as an officer on destroyers, mostly in the same northern seas. His ship (HMS Tartar) was one of those that pursued the battleship "Bismarck" following the Battle of the Denmark Strait and he witnessed her sinking. Kennedy later wrote about this in his book "Pursuit".

He had two younger sisters, Morar and Katherine. Katherine married Major Ion Calvocoressi in 1947.

Journalism and broadcasting

After the war he attended Christ Church, Oxford and began a career as a journalist.

In February 1950 he married the dancer and actress Moira Shearer in the Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace. The couple went on to have one son and three daughters from a 56-year marriage that ended with her death on 31 January, 2006 at the age of 80.

A campaigning, investigative reporter, Kennedy wrote for a number of publications, including "Newsweek". From 1953, he edited and introduced the "First Reading" radio series on the BBC Third Programme, presenting young writers such as Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin. Later he became a television journalist and a newsreader on ITV's Independent Television News. He presented the BBC's flagship current affairs programme "Panorama" for several years. Kennedy has been interested in miscarriages of justice, and he has written and broadcast on numerous cases.

From 1984 to 1991 he presented the television review programme "Did You See...?". He interviewed Peter Cook's character Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling in "A life in pieces" in 1990. He appeared as himself in several episodes of the political comedy series "Yes, Prime Minister", and was the subject of an episode of "That Reminds Me". "Private Eye" magazine sometimes refers to him as 'Ludicrous Kennedy'. In the long-running BBC sitcom "Til Death Us Do Part", Alf Garnett while attacking BBC personalities spoke of him as a "Russian Mick" ("Mick" being an offensive term for an Irishman), meaning "that "Ludovich Kennedy!"


Kennedy's highly regarded book "Pursuit: The Chase and Sinking of the "Bismarck" (ISBN 0-304-35526-7) detailed the career of the "Bismarck", her sinking of British battlecruiser "Hood", and her destruction by the Royal Navy.

He has written several books that question convictions in a number of notable cases in British criminal history. Among these, "10 Rillington Place" (ISBN 0-586-03428-5) examined the conviction of Timothy Evans, who was executed for the murder of his wife and baby. Kennedy contended that Evans was innocent, and that the crimes had been committed by the serial killer John Christie. Evans was pardoned, and the scandal helped in the abolition of the death penalty in the UK. Kennedy's book was filmed in 1971: Richard Fleischer's film starred John Hurt as Evans and Richard Attenborough as Christie.

In 1985, Kennedy published "The Airman And The Carpenter" (ISBN 0-670-80606-4), in which he argued that Bruno Richard Hauptmann did not kidnap and murder Charles Lindbergh's baby, a crime for which he was executed in 1936. The book was made into a 1996 HBO film "Crime Of The Century", starring Stephen Rea and Isabella Rossellini.

In 2003, he wrote "36 Murders and 2 Immoral Earnings" (ISBN 1-86197-457-4) ( [] ), in which he analysed a number of noted cases, including the Evans case and those of Derek Bentley and the Birmingham Six.

He concluded that the adversarial system of justice in the UK and the United States "is an invitation to the police to commit perjury, which they frequently do".

Kennedy has also written:
* "Sub-Lieutenant: A Personal Record of the War at Sea", 1942
* "One man's meat", 1953
* "Murder Story", 1954
* "Trial of Stephen Ward", 1964, ISBN 0-575-01035-5
* "Very lovely people; a personal look at some Americans living abroad", 1969, ISBN 0-671-20205-7
* "Nelson and His Captains" (also called "Nelson's band of brothers"), 1975, ISBN 0-00-211569-7
* "Presumption of Innocence: Amazing Case of Patrick Meehan", 1976, ISBN 0-575-02072-5
* "Death of the Tirpitz" (also called "Menace — The Life and Death of the Tirpitz"), 1979, ISBN 0-316-48905-0
* "On My Way to the Club", 1990, ISBN 0-00-637079-9 (his autobiography)
* "Truth to Tell: Collected Writings of Ludovic Kennedy", 1992, ISBN 0-552-99505-3
* "In Bed with an Elephant: Personal View of Scotland", 1995, ISBN 0-593-02326-9
* "All in the Mind: A Farewell To God", 1999, ISBN 0-340-68063-6 (a critique of Christianity)


In 1958, Kennedy stood for election to parliament as the Liberal candidate in the Rochdale by-election called after the death of the sitting Conservative MP, Wentworth Schofield in December 1957. He lost to the Labour candidate, Jack McCann, but achieved a massive increase in the Liberal vote, pushing the Conservatives into a distant third place. The Rochdale contest was the first British by-election to receive live television coverage (locally, by Granada Television).


In addition to his writing and campaigning on miscarriages of justice, Kennedy has campaigned on a number of other issues.

A lifelong atheist, he published "All In The Mind: A Farewell To God" (ISBN 0-340-68063-6) in 1999, in which he discussed his philosophical objections to religion, and the ills he felt had come from Christianity. He is a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association, he contributes to "New Humanist" magazine, he is an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society and a Distinguished Supporter of the Humanist Society of Scotland.

He is also an advocate of the legalisation of assisted suicide, and is a co-founder and former chair of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society. His book, "Euthanasia: The Case for the Good Death" (ISBN 0-7011-3639-1), was published in 1990.

Kennedy resigned from the Liberal Democrats in 2001 ( [] ), citing the incompatibility of his pro-voluntary euthanasia views with those of the then Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy (no relation) who is a Roman Catholic.

He then stood as an independent on a platform of legalising voluntary euthanasia in the 2001 general election for the Wiltshire constituency of Devizes. He won 2% of the vote and has since rejoined the Liberal Democrats.

External links

* [ Details of HMS "Rawalpindi"]
* [ Brief biography of Ludovic Kennedy]

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