Graham Harvey, who was most recently editor of the Post Office Courier, has died suddenly aged 54.
He was one of the great characters in north London journalism in the Seventies when he edited the sports pages for North London Newspapers, including the Camden Journal, Hornsey Journal and the Islington Gazette.
He started in journalism on the Hayes Chronicle and worked briefly on the Ham and High before starting with North London News.
Harvey was a true professional who combined his passionate political beliefs with a lively, fearless and anarchic humour.
In the boiling hot summer of 1976, for example, management at North London News ignored pleas for action to cool down their poorly ventilated offices. Harvey’s response was to turn up for work wearing just swimming trunks.
After a day of a half-naked Harvey producing pages on the sports desk, management decided to provide some cooling fans.
He was one of the first sports journalists in London to highlight the problem of racism in league football – which was not an easy thing to do during the Seventies when football (and newspaper)
managements wanted to deny its existence.
Despite pressure from them, Harvey – along with fellow sports editor, the late Ken Burgess – ran campaigns to isolate racist elements among supporters at Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal.
He was active in the anti-racist movement throughout the Seventies and was one of a group of eight journalists who refused to work on issues of the Hornsey Journal and Camden Journal which were to carry an advertisement from the National Front. The ad was withdrawn when the journalists defied threats of sacking.
Harvey had an unerring eye for the absurd and his satirical observations of the fraught newspaper industrial relations of the time were posted on a noticeboard he set up behind his sports desk.
On a number of occasions members of management who were targets for his mocking wit tried to have it removed, but Harvey persisted with his subversion despite dire threats.
His own union colleagues were not exempt from being the butt of his jokes on the board – any absurdity was seen as fair game.
But when push came to shove, Harvey was always a most loyal and active member of the National Union of Journalist and he played a key part in a number of disputes.
In 1980, he left to become a sub-editor on the Post Office Courier. He stayed there, becoming editor for seven years until 2003 when he retired early, through ill-health.
He died on 16 June after a short illness at his home in Palmers Green.
He leaves a wife, Melanie, and children Tom, 17, Kye, 22, Natalie, 28, and Nial, 30.