Ian Waller: Sunday Telegraph political correspondent

Ian Waller, a Fleet Street journalist for more than 30 years, has died aged 77.

He was educated at King’s School, Canterbury, before going on to read history at New College, Oxford, before joining the Army. After the war he worked as a defending officer in courts martials.

He soon decided he wanted to become a journalist but struggled to find a job in the profession. While speaking for a Labour candidate at Acton during the General Election campaign of 1951, he was grilled by a female journalist.

It turned out to be an interview with the editor of the Acton Gazette, who then offered Waller a post as reporter. He joined the Central Press as a lobby correspondent in the early Fifties and then did the same job for the Glasgow Herald.

When The Sunday Telegraph launched in 1961 he joined as political correspondent and later became a columnist. He worked for the newspaper until he retired in 1986.

During his time in Fleet Street he became a member of the National Union of Journalists and stood on the picket line outside the old Telegraph building during the pay disputes in the Seventies. He campaigned for female journalists to be allowed to stand at the bar in El Vinos on Fleet Street and for his trouble was banned from the place. Eventually, a lifting of the ban was renegotiated.

Waller was also made famous among journalists for his refusal to name a source to the tribunal looking into the John Vassall affair. Vassall, a homosexual Admiralty clerk, had been sent down for 18 years for being a Soviet spy. Two other journalists, Reginald Foster of the Daily Sketch and Brendan Mulholland of the Daily Mail, were jailed for refusing to name their sources but Waller escaped a sentence.

Waller covered the political life of the country under seven Prime Ministers, from Winston Churchill to Margaret Thatcher. He wrote political obituaries for The Sunday Telegraph, celebrating the lives of former MPs.

Waller, who died on 8 August, is survived by his widow Shirley, their two sons and their daughter.

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