ABC cameraman Australia's first casualty in Iraq
by Greg Tingle

ABC cameraman Australia's first casualty in Iraq, by Greg Tingle

23rd March 2003

An Australian cameraman on assignment for the ABC in northern Iraq has been killed by a car bomb.

Freelance cameraman Paul Moran, 39, and ABC correspondent Eric Campbell had ventured to the northern town of Sayed Sadiq, where there had been fighting between Kurds and Iraqi militants.

Mr Campbell says Mr Moran had gone ahead of him to do some filming.

He told Mediaman, Paul was filming final shots for their story, when a taxi sped up alongside him and exploded.

“Paul was dead and ... He was just a tremendous guy to work with, just an extraordinary cameraman and editor and producer and all the rest of it,” he said.

“He knew this area backwards, he'd been here many times before, had very good contacts, he was just a great resource for being here and for working around the clock in this coverage we were doing.”

Paul Campbell says they were doing everything they could to protect themselves in Iraq. 

Only last week, when Mediaman met with the ABC’s Peter Clancy, National OH&S Advisor for all 13 divisions. Peter said, “our staff on assignment have full training. There is a comprehensive checklist with a scoring system, and if the risks are too high, staff are directed to leave the danger zone. Staff are comprehensively educated as to the hazards, and the Management shall make the safety decisions by following a strict procedure.  The story is secondary to staff safety. We would rather they come back to Australia alive”.

It is clear that the ABC staff are well aware of the dangerous of working in war zones, and they still have Australian journalists based in Iraq.

Eric added “Both Paul and I have newborn babies and we sort of decided when we came across the border we'd be as careful as we could and we were”.

"We always wore flak jackets and checking where everyone else had been and where was safe, and we just thought we were okay, and just out of the blue this awful thing happened."

He said they were getting pretty tired but still enjoying the Iraq experience.

"After we'd finished filming up at the base we just looked at each other and just thought “great story”, we've got some fantastic material and we were looking forward to going back to Sulaymaniyah and putting it together and this just happened," he said.

Eric said he will be soon leaving Iraq.

“I just have some shrapnel wounds and it's fairly superficial and I'm okay,” he said.

“I’ve lost half my hearing but I think that's just temporary from the blast.”

“I'm okay and I'm going to get out of here”.

“Hopefully, I'll get across to the Iranian border tomorrow and then back to my family in Melbourne.”

The attack is being blamed on the Islamic militant group, Ansar al-Islam which has alleged links to infamous terrorist group, Al Qaeda.

Paul Moran was based in Paris, originally from Adelaide.

He is survived by his wife and a baby daughter.

The ABC's managing director, Russell Balding, said Paul Moran's loss is deeply felt by all at the corporation.

Russell Balding has extended his deepest sympathies to Paul Moran's family.

He says Paul Moran was pursuing a profession he deeply loved and for which he was greatly respected.