IAN Bell, the award-winning journalist and columnist for The Herald and Sunday Herald, has died. He was 59.

Twice named Journalist of the Year, Bell began his career as a sub-editor before his move into political journalism. He later wrote as a columnist and leader writer.

In 1997, he won the Orwell Prize for political journalism and he was named Columnist of the Year on several occasions.

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Bell, who was born in Edinburgh, was also an award-winning author, having penned two volumes of a biography of Bob Dylan and one of Robert Louis Stevenson, Dreams of Exile, which was named Saltire Society's Best First Book in 1994.

He is survived by his wife Mandy and his son Sean.

Sean Bell, in a statement issued on behalf of the family, said: “Our family has lost a husband, a father and a son and Scotland has lost its finest journalist. He set a standard none shall ever reach again yet he inspired us to never stop trying.

"We ask that our privacy is respected at this difficult time.”

Magnus Llewellin, editor-in-chief of The Herald & Times Group, said: “Ian was a great writer and, more importantly, a great man.

"His was a vital voice in the national conversation but, more than that, he was a man of profound depth with a hinterland in literature, history and the arts, as demonstrated by the many awards he won as a journalist and author.

“Our thoughts are with his family and his many, many friends.”

Grahame Smith, Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) General Secretary, said: "The STUC is shocked and saddened to learn of the death of Ian Bell, a true giant of Scottish journalism. Ian's career spanned a time of great industrial and social change in Scotland which he charted with passion, consummate skill and a profound understanding of the impact on working people and their communities. He will be very sadly missed"