Fleet Street legend Lord Rees-Mogg dies

David Cameron pays tribute to his influential Tory colleague and former editor of 'The Times'

William Rees-Mogg, one of the grandest pillars of the English establishment, died yesterday at the age of 84. Tributes were paid to him by the Prime Minister and many politicians and journalists who had been inspired by him.

David Cameron called him "a Fleet Street legend, editing The Times through a tumultuous period with flair and integrity". Rees-Mogg was editor from 1967, when it was bought by the Canadian publisher Roy Thomson, until 1981, when it was acquired by Rupert Murdoch. He was editor in 1978-79 when a dispute over new technology took the newspaper off the streets for 11 months.

Mr Cameron said: "I always found him full of wisdom and good advice – particularly when I first became Leader of the Opposition."

Lord Rees-Mogg was born in Bristol and educated at Charterhouse School and Balliol College, Oxford, where he was president of the Oxford Union. He lived in Somerset and described himself as "a country person who spends most of his time in London".

He worked for the Financial Times, fought a safe Labour seat as the Conservative candidate in 1956, moved to The Sunday Times in 1960 and became editor of The Times at the age of 38. In his early fifties he left the most distinguished job in British print journalism, and continued to write for the rest of his life, producing his last column for The Times just two weeks before his death.

Fraser Nelson, the editor of The Spectator, yesterday recalled the advice Lord Rees-Mogg gave him in 2001: "He said he took inspiration from Ben Johnson's essays: the originals, he said, were still the best." He also told the young Nelson that he had "about six topics on the boil at any one moment. There wasn't time to properly research a topic and write it up in one day, so he'd spend the week working up topics that were interesting." Finally, he said, "you had to love journalism with all your heart: if you lose the sense of excitement, give up".

After editing The Times, Lord Rees-Mogg went on to be chairman of the Arts Council and vice-chairman of the BBC, but he continued to love print journalism with all his heart and to write for the Mail on Sunday and The Times. Because of his prominence, people noticed when some of his predictions turned out to be wrong, although he once said it was not his job to be right but to be interesting.

He was a one-nation Conservative, who co-founded the Bow Group in 1951 with Geoffrey Howe. Ben Harris-Quinney, chairman of the Bow Group, paid tribute to him last night: "He was the model of the intellectual Conservative."

His son, Jacob Rees-Mogg, MP for North East Somerset, said yesterday: "It has been a mercifully short illness. He died peacefully and a member of his family was with him. He was very prepared for it."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HR Consultancy - £65,000 OTE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect