BROADCASTER and independence campaigner Colin Bell has died at the age of 83.

The former journalist and writer hosted discussion programmes on BBC Radio Scotland between the mid-1980s and the early 2000s.

A passionate nationalist, he held office in the SNP and contested Edinburgh West constituency and the North East European constituency in the 1970s.

The brodacaster was born in London in 1938. He attended St Paul’s school and won scholarships to Cambridge, where he graduated with a starred first. A member of the Apostles, he went on to teach economic history at King's College.

He juggled journalism with academia, writing for Fleet Street papers in the 1960s and 1970s, before being recruited to the Scotsman to work alongside Neal Ascherson. From there he wrote for the Sunday Mail before launching the mid-afternoon Taking Issue programme on BBC Radio Scotland.

From an ex-pat Scottish family, he became interested in nationalism in the 1970s. He held the post of convener for publicity in the SNP and contested the Westminster seat of Edinburgh West and the European Parliament seat of the North East of Scotland in 1979.

He is survived by his wife Caroline ‘Rose’ Bell and his four children Rachel, Catherine, Alex and Georgina and six grandchildren.

Michael Russell was among those to pay tribute. The SNP president tweeted: “Sorry to hear of the death today of Colin Bell - respected journalist , broadcaster , writer and nationalist who (like @AlexSalmond & myself) was @theSNP Publicity Convener in very different times. His work helped all of us get closer to the goal…”

Sky News journalist James Matthews added: “Very sorry to hear of the death of the broadcaster, journalist & academic Colin Bell. One of Scotland’s finest who worked for BBC Scotland, Fleet Street titles, The Scotsman & Sunday Mail. Also taught economic history at Kings College, Cambridge. Condolences to his family.”