Richard Stott 1943-2007 - the only editor to run two national newspapers, twice

The only editor to have edited two national newspapers twice – Richard Stott – has died aged 63 from pancreatic cancer.

Stott was twice editor of both the Daily Mirror and The People and once held five editorships in 12 years – believed to be a record.

Up until recent weeks he has been writing a column in the Sunday Mirror.

Born in 1943 in Oxford, Stott was educated at Clifton College, Bristol, before starting his career on the Bucks Herald, Aylesbury, in 1963. Two years later he joined Dartford-based Ferrari press agency.

In 1968 he joined the Daily Mirror as a reporter and stayed in that role until 1979. In 1977 he was named Reporter of the Year at the British Press Awards.

He was features editor off the Mirror from 1979 to 1982, assistant editor 1982 to ’84 and made editor of The People from 1984 to 85.

He was editor of the Daily Mirror from 1985 to 89, following a period as editor and managing director of The People from 1989 to 1991, he returned to the Daily Mirror as editor in 1991.

Stott was later made editor of now defunct national daily Today.

He revealed in his 2002 autobiography that he was was once offered the editorship of The Sun in 1995 by Rupert Murdoch but turned it down for political reasons.

Tony Blair, then leader of the Opposition and hoping for Murdoch’s support at the next election, forcefully urged Stott not to turn the job down, saying: “Bloody hell, Richard, I’ll kill you if you do that.”

Stott said simply that The Sun was “not my paper”.

“It was not where I belonged. I knew The Sun and Murdoch were and still are unreconstructed Thatcherites. That’s why they are now having such difficulty in supporting the New Labour line.”

Newly appointed chairman and chief executive Les Hinton was by Murdoch’s side when he told Stott Today was to close and made the offer for him to edit The Sun.

“I was appalled, but more surprised by his next announcement. As a prelude he laid on the famous Murdoch flattery with a trowel,” Stott wrote.

Murdoch told him: “You are one of the best three editors I have known in my time,” and asked him to edit The Sun, then edited by Stuart Higgins.

“I told him I would not edit a paper that supported the Tories and he gobsmacked me even more by saying, ‘It doesn’t have to be like that, it could support Labour’.”

Daily Mirror editor Richard Wallace said: “Richard Stott was one of Fleet Street’s great editors with a unique record of achievement. But it is as editor of the Daily Mirror – a position he held twice – that he will be remembered for most. His great eye for a story and rumbustious personality came through on every page and he commanded the respect of friends and foes alike. It is a sad day for British journalism.”

David Banks, who replaced Stott as Daily Mirror editor, said: “He was a fantastic journalist and an inspiration to a whole geeneration of Mirror people because he was very much a Mirror man..

He worked with Dan Ferrari on the Jeremy Thorpe investigation in the 1970s and just covered himself in glory. I was a young sub editor at the time and you just admire the stuff he was pulling up.

“I know they were desperate to get him back into print at the Sunday Mirror. He wrote a sensible and thoughtful political column which is very much the sort of journalist he was. My generation of journalists will miss him – but the next generation will also miss him because he was a youthful elder-statesman of the business.”

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