Victor Matthews, newspaper baron, dies

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Lord Matthews of Southgate, who started life as an office boy and retired a millionaire newspaper baron, died on Tuesday.

The former chairman of Express Newspapers was accompanied by his only son, Ian, when he died of cancer at his farmhouse near St Bredlades, Jersey. It was his 76th birthday.

Lord Matthews was a man whose commercial acumen was matched by his enthusiasm for newspapers and his devotion to Margaret Thatcher, who made him a life peer in 1980.

Victor Collin Matthews was born in Islington, north London, in December 1919. He started his career as an office boy on 25 shillings a week, going to night school to improve his education.

He was a seaman during the Second World War, returning to start a building firm. In 1964 he sold a stake to Trafalgar House, and found himself at the head of a huge construction business.

Trafalgar bought Beaverbrook Newspapers in 1977 and Matthews soon added the first tabloid in 75 years, the Daily Star, to the stable.

He often ran Express Newspapers like his old builder's yard, but journalists yesterday paid tribute to his skills.

Derek Jameson, a former Daily Express editor, said he "was more at home with bricks and ships than newspapers, but he took up the challenge with energy and courage".

Obituary, page 22

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