Published on 29 Dec 2012 Sections

Lord Rees-Mogg: PM pays tribute to ‘Fleet Street legend’

David Cameron pays tribute to the “Fleet Street legend” Lord Rees-Mogg, the former editor of The Times, who has died at the age of 84.

Lord Rees-Mogg who has died, aged 84 (picture: Getty)

William Rees-Mogg, who edited The Times betwen 1967 and 1981, passed away from inoperable oesophageal cancer which was only recently discovered, his son said.

During his tenure at The Times, which encompassed Rupert Murdoch’s takeover, Rees-Mogg was credited with making the paper’s journalism more investigative and its opinions more challenging.

The Conservative peer died “very peacefully and a member of family was with him”, his son Jacob said.

The prime minister 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.”

As well as his editorship of The Times, Rees-Mogg was vice-chairman of the BBC’s board of governors and chairman of the Arts Council in the 80s.

Born in Somerset on July 14, 1928, he was educated at Charterhouse, and later Oxford University.

His career in journalism began at the Financial Times in 1952, before he moved to the Sunday Times in 1960, where he later became deputy editor. There, he wrote the piece, A Captain’s Innings, in which he called for then Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home to resign.

A highlight of his career included a leader, Who breaks a butterfly on a wheel?, in which he defended Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones after he was arrested for possession of cannabis.

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.”

He lived near Bath in Somerset, and was married to Lady Gillian Rees-Mogg. The couple have five children.

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