'A Fleet Street legend': Prime Minister leads tributes to former editor of The Times Lord Rees-Mogg

 

David Cameron has paid tribute to “Fleet Street legend” Lord Rees-Mogg, who has died after a short illness aged 84.

As William Rees-Mogg, he was editor of The Times from 1967 to 1981 and went on to become an influential columnist.

His son, Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, said the peer had only discovered recently that he had inoperable oesophageal cancer.

“It has been a mercifully short illness. He died very peacefully and a member of his family was with him. He was very prepared for it,” Jacob Rees-Mogg told The Times.

Lord Rees-Mogg was at the helm of The Times during Rupert Murdoch's 1981 takeover.

During his editorship, he was credited with making the reporting more investigative and the paper's opinions more challenging.

After his tenure as editor, Lord Rees-Mogg was a columnist whose opinions were highly influential in Tory circles, particularly during the Thatcher and Major governments. He was also vice chairman of the BBC's board of governors (1981-86) and chairman of the Arts Council (1982-89).

The Prime Minister led tributes.

He said: “William Rees-Mogg is rightly a Fleet Street legend - editing The Times through a tumultuous period with flair and integrity.

“I always found him full of wisdom and good advice - particularly when I first became leader of the Opposition.

“My thoughts are with his wife and five children at this sad time.”

BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten said: “William Rees-Mogg was a great journalist and editor, and a distinguished public servant, for example at the Arts Council and BBC.

“My family knew him as a kind and good man, generous, spirited, warm, witty, and the much-loved father of a close and talented family.

“Everyone who knew him will miss him deeply.”

Lord Rees-Mogg received a life peerage in 1988 and sat as a cross-bencher.

He went on to challenge the legality of John Major's ratification of the Maastricht Treaty. But three High Court judges rejected his contention.

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