John McCarthy (journalist)

John Patrick McCarthy CBE (born 27 November 1956) is a British journalist, writer and broadcaster, and one of the hostages in the Lebanon hostage crisis. McCarthy was the United Kingdom's longest-held hostage in Lebanon, where he was a prisoner for more than five years.


He attended Lochinver House School, then Haileybury College, Hertfordshire, and read American Studies at the University of Hull.

McCarthy was a journalist working for United Press International Television News at the time of his kidnap by Islamic Jihad terrorists in Lebanon in April 1986, and was held in captivity until his release on 8 August 1991. He shared a cell with the Irish hostage Brian Keenan for several years. While a prisoner, he learned that his girlfriend, Jill Morrell, was actively campaigning for his release, launching a group called "Friends of John McCarthy".[1]

By the time of McCarthy's release, his mother Sheila had died of cancer, unaware of his fate.[2] Following his release, he co-authored, with Jill Morrell, a memoir of his years in captivity, entitled Some Other Rainbow. Their relationship ended four years later,[3] and he later married Anna Ottewill, a photographer, and they have a daughter.[4]

In 1995 John McCarthy sailed around the coast of Britain with Sandi Toksvig, making a BBC documentary TV series and a book of the experience. McCarthy had attended university with Toksvig's brother, Nick. He co-presented the BBC Radio 4 programme Excess Baggage, also with Sandi Toksvig. On 29 March 2014, McCarthy hosted the ceremony for the "I Do To Equal Marriage" event which celebrated the introduction of same-sex marriage in England and Wales. Toksvig renewed her vows to her civil partner at the event.[5][6]

Honours and affiliations[]

He is Patron of Freedom from Torture (formerly the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture), and has been awarded an Honorary D.Litt from his alma mater, the University of Hull where a students' union bar (now an ice cream ‘parlour’) is named after him.[7]

He was appointed a CBE in 1992.

Media references[]


Books about McCarthy[]


  1. ^ Sebastian Faulks (17 April 1993). "BOOK REVIEW / Touched by the tears of a clown: 'Some Other Rainbow' - John McCarthy and Jill Morrell". The Independent. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  2. ^ Lisa O'Kelly (10 November 2002). "Letters from my mother". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  3. ^ Jill Morell (3 May 2009). "'It's sad I haven't settled down': John McCarthy's ex-girlfriend reveals the lasting effects of the Beirut hostage crisis". Daily Mail. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  4. ^ Graham Norwood (26 June 2012). "John McCarthy: My home is my sanctuary". The Telegraph. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  5. ^ "Thousands help comedian Sandi Toksvig renew vows after introduction of gay marriage". Herald Scotland. 29 March 2014. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  6. ^ "Thousands help comedian Sandi Toksvig renew vows after introduction of gay marriage". Herald Scotland. 29 March 2014. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  7. ^ BAM Agency Ltd. "Hull University Union Students – The Home for HUU University Students". Retrieved 18 May 2009.
  8. ^

External links[]