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."

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

E150/2014 - English Language Checker (Grade B3)

On Application: Council of Europe: The European Court of Human Rights’s judgme...

Marketing Executive

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Charter Selection: A professional services company ...

Project Manager - Bristol South West

£400 - £450 per day: Orgtel: Project Manager (PM), Key Banking Client, Retail ...

Principal Engineer – Biomass

£45000 - £55000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil