A senior ITN journalist told an inquest yesterday of the last telephone conversation he had with veteran war reporter Terry Lloyd before he was killed in Iraq.

Head of news gathering Jonathan Munro said he had received a call mid-morning on March 21, 2003, the day before Mr Lloyd and his team were caught up in crossfire between US and Iraqi troops near the Shatt al Basra bridge.

He said Mr Lloyd and his team, working independently of military forces, had accepted an assignment to travel into Iraq from Kuwait to find out the feelings of Iraqi civilians about the conflict.

He told Oxfordshire assistant deputy coroner Andrew Walker on the second day of the inquest into 50-year-old Mr Lloyd's death: "We had a conversation in some detail about what information we had gathered so far and Terry's plans for the following few hours.

"He described the journey across the border and check-points which he went through. He had gathered that there was an area north of the first checkpoint which was accessible to people who were waved through by the military."

He said Mr Lloyd had told him they had entered an area which had few civilians left in it and discovered a farmhouse which had been abandoned, where they had decided to spend the Thursday night.

Mr Munro said: "He described in some detail plans that they had for the next few hours ... that he, together with (Lebanese translator) Hussein Osman, would take one vehicle out from the farmhouse to do a reconnaissance of the immediate area to the north of the farmhouse further up the road towards Basra.

"He very deliberately did not take cameramen because he wanted to ensure it was a single vehicle and not a convoy."

The hearing continues.