Fleet Street veteran Roy East, who ran a freelance news agency in Cornwall for many years, died suddenly on May Day at his home in Bodmin.

Roy, 82, worked for the Sunday People before setting up the Cornwall News Service, and he was widely known throughout the county.

He did broadcast work for BBC South West and contributed to many local newspapers, including the Falmouth-based Packet Series and the Plymouth-based Sunday Independent.

But most of his work was for national newspapers, especially the Sunday titles, and he was well known and highly respected by Fleet Street newsdesks.

In 1976, he was involved with the launch of a local weekly newspaper, the Cornwall Courier, together with the late Mike Robertson (founder of the West Country out-of-town retail group, Trago Mills), former Cornish MP Paul Tyler (now Lord Tyler of Linkinghorne)

and Terry Lambert (now group editor of Newsquest Cornwall).

The paper was later acquired by the Daily Express group and merged with other titles.

Although officially retired, Roy continued to do occasional work for national newspapers and was still contacted on a regular basis by London newsdesks, seeking help with West Country stories.

Roy was a mentor to many, including Richard Burton (now editor of Telegraph.co.uk).

He commented: "Why is this a significant moment for me? Because, as I forge ahead in this world of weblogs, podcasts, 24-hour news and SMS messaging, there haven't been many — and I mean many — times, when faced with a difficult story, I haven't asked myself: what would Roy have done?

"I worked with Roy in the '70s, shortly after he retired to Bodmin, set up the Cornwall News Service and started finding scandal and skulduggery among the clifftops and the hedgerows.

"Roy East was one of those journalists who brought Fleet Street to the high street; he found the most amazing stories, not in foreign embassies, Whitehall or City institutions, but windswept villages and cattle markets."

by Terry Lambert

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