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‘Bright light’ of journalism Hanna Yusuf dies aged 27

‘Terrible loss’:
Hanna Yusuf
was praised for
her ‘incredible’
journalism. She
defended wearing
hijab as ‘feminist
statement’ PICTURE: ITV/REX

BBC journalist Hanna Yusuf, who broke stories about poor working conditions at Costa Coffee and schoolgirl Shamima Begum, has died aged 27.

As broadcasters and presenters paid tribute, her family said yesterday they were ‘deeply saddened and heartbroken’ by her sudden death.

In a statement, they said they hoped her legacy ‘would serve as an inspiration’ while colleagues heaped praise on ‘one of the brightest journalists in the British-Somali community’.

BBC director of news Fran Unsworth said yesterday: ‘This is terrible news that has left us all deeply saddened. Hanna Yusuf was a talented young journalist widely admired across the BBC. Hanna will be much missed.’

The corporation’s chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet said: ‘You left too soon a world where you shone such a bright light.’

Radio 6 Music presenter Lauren Laverne said she was ‘absolutely heartbroken’ and documentary maker Stacey Dooley shared a post praising the ‘incredible journalist’.

Ms Yusuf made a video for The Guardian in 2015 about her decision to wear the hijab, describing it as a ‘feminist statement’, which was widely reported.

Appearing on ITV’S Good Morning Britain after a 2017 European ruling gave employers the power to ban political and religious symbols at work, she told presenters Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid it would ‘disproportionately affect Muslim women’.

Born in Somalia in 1992, Ms Yusuf spoke six languages, including Arabic, and had worked with whistleblowers and victims of serious crime.

She wrote for the BBC News website, had worked as a TV news producer and had previously written for The Guardian, The Independent and The Times.

This year she revealed Costa Coffee refused to pay employees sick and annual leave, forcing the company to launch an independent audit ‘given the serious nature of the allegations’.

While working for the BBC News Channel earlier this year, she revealed that the family of Ms Begum, who fled to Syria to join Daesh, had told then home secretary Sajid Javid they were going to challenge his decision to revoke her UK citizenship. She also secured an interview with Ms Begum’s lawyer, who accused UK authorities of failing to protect her from being groomed by Daesh.