Tributes Paid To Press Freedom Campaigner Patsy Robertson

Tributes have been paid to press freedom campaigner Patsy Robertson, who worked for the Commonwealth Secretariat for almost 30 years under three Secretaries-General, after she died last week aged 86.

Lord Black of Brentwood, chairman of the CPU Media Trust, said: “Patsy Robertson was, throughout her lifetime and her distinguished career, a doughty champion of press freedom both here in the UK and throughout the Commonwealth. She fought consistently for the media and for self-regulation. We will miss her very much.”

After graduating in New York at the end of the fifties Patsy was taken on as a young reporter in Kingston by the Jamaica Gleaner. She then joined the newly established Jamaican High Commission in London as an information officer and from there, three years later, she joined the Commonwealth Secretariat.

For almost 30 years, under three Secretaries-General, she was the voice of the Commonwealth, establishing rapport with journalists throughout the world, supporting young ones, and notably working as the spokesperson of Shridath Ramphal in his battles with the UK Government over Rhodesia-Zimbabwe and apartheid South Africa.

She rose to be head of information at the Secretariat, but never lost her affinity with journalists. She was with Ramphal at the Dalhousie University conference in 1978, of Commonwealth professionals, which led to the foundation of the Commonwealth Journalists’ Association.

After retiring from the Secretariat in the early 90s she had another spell in New York doing information work for UN Women, attending the Beijing women’s conference in 1995. She continued, chairing trustees of the Ramphal Institute from 2007 until her death, active on widows’ rights, trustee variously of the Thomson Foundation and the Commonwealth Press Union Trust, and chair of the Commonwealth Association.

She died just ten days short of her 87th birthday, leaving three adult children and one grandson; her husband predeceased her. Tributes have poured in since her death, with people recalling acts of kindness, her sense of humour, and all they had learnt from her.