Higher education correspondent
Thursday 05 October 2006
Ngaio Cheryl Crequer, journalist: born Crawley, Sussex 6 June 1951; married 1980 Colin Robinson (one son, one daughter); died Carshalton, Surrey 28 September 2006.
Ngaio Crequer was one of the most brilliant education journalists of her generation. She played a pivotal role in exposing the then secret garden of academe to wider public scrutiny in the pages of the Times Higher Education Supplement and then The Independent in the 1980s.
She was afraid of nothing and nobody, including editors, and uncovered facts and issues that others would have preferred to remain unreported. More than one career hit the buffers as a result of her determined probing. Yet she earned the lasting respect of many leading lights in the universities, notably Sir Peter Swinnerton-Dyer, chairman of what was then the University Grants Committee.
When The Independent launched in 1986, Crequer was the first recruit to a three-strong education team. She was among a galaxy of iconoclasts who joined the paper at its birth: Francis Wheen (diary), James Fenton (South-East Asia), Andrew Marr and the late Anthony Bevins (politics) Alexander Chancellor (Washington), Richard North (environment), Andrew Brown (religious affairs) and Donald Macintyre (labour), to name just a few. She brought The Independent scoop after scoop.
Universities were then moving, at dizzying speed, into a new era. Financing, student numbers, teaching and research were all under scrutiny from a government that thought academics had been cosseted for too long. Crequer led Fleet Street on this story, as well as on some of the wider education reforms planned by Kenneth Baker, the then Education Secretary.
One of four children from a working-class background in Crawley, Sussex, she was the first member of her family to go to university. At Manchester University she read Politics and Modern History and later became president of the students' union.
She joined the Birmingham Post and Mail group as a graduate trainee journalist and in 1976 became municipal correspondent. She went to the THES two years later and became chief reporter in 1981 and news editor in 1984.
After nearly eight years at The Independent, she became press officer at the Association for Colleges and then briefly a freelance education journalist before she joined the further education desk at The Times Educational Supplement in 1997. Here, she returned to her old scoop-breaking form, most notably with articles which led to the much-publicised departure of Roger Ward, chief executive of the Association of Colleges (the result of a merger involving the body for which she formerly worked). She left the paper in November 2004 and retrained as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language.
A Manchester United fan, she gave some of her secret contacts football pseudonyms. TES staff were frequently amazed that she received phone calls from "Ryan Giggs" and "Gary Neville". Her passion for Man Utd was matched by her passion for the Beatles, and particularly for Paul McCartney. He was not, however, forgiven for marrying Heather Mills. Crequer rarely did things by halves: total loyalty could be succeeded by fierce enmity. She was exceptionally warm in friendship, but those who crossed her (particularly men who presumed to call her "love") did so at their peril.
Ngaio Crequer was a lifelong vegetarian and a devotee of old-fashioned bibulous lunches. Fond of dogs, she had two - first Hermione and in recent years Lincs, whom she took for long walks on Mitcham Common, near her home in Surrey.
Her dedication to journalism was exceeded only by her devotion to and pride in her children. She leaves a husband, Colin Robinson, a son, Aaron Robinson, and a daughter, Kiri Crequer, now in their final years at Aberdeen and Liverpool universities respectively.
Peter Wilby and Simon Midgley
Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...
£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...
£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...
£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...