Hughes was a railway shunter before he began a colourful newspaper career.
He joined the Melbourne Star in 1934, and by 1940 was based in Tokyo, warning that Japan was likely to enter the war against the Allies. After service as a correspondent in the Middle East, he returned to Tokyo in 1945 and spent most of the remainder of his working life there.
He distinguished himself in world journalism when he unearthed the defected British spies Burgess and MacLean in 1956. A flamboyant character, he was described by John Le Carre as "a sort of journalistic Eiffel Tower".
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