Stuart Smith

Friend and colleagues gathered at West Norwood Crematorium last month to pay their final respects to Stuart Smith, a reporter with the Fleetline News Service.

Stuart, 53, died unexpectedly in February. The cause of death has yet to be ascertained.

Born in Sunderland, his father was a shipyard worker who moved to Glasgow where Stuart was spent his childhood. He always spoke warmly of the city.

He studied Scandinavian languages at university – where Kate Adie was a fellow student – and then spent his early days as a journalist in Sunderland.

He later worked on the Evening Chronicle, Newcastle, and in the Scunthorpe area before moving to London.

Stuart worked as a freelance journalist for  the Fleetline agency for some 15 years.

He was conscientious and accurate in his reporting on the many cases he covered.

Starting with coverage of the coroners’, magistrates’ and Crown courts, Stuart progressed to professional conduct committees, including the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.

His speciality was covering disciplinary cases of doctors’ malpractice at the General Medical Council. Perhaps it was through attending these hearings that, at a personal level, in connection with his own health, he had a mistrust of doctors. Whenever Stuart was admitted to hospital he would mostly always discharge himself.

In July last year Stuart became ill. In September he spent several weeks in hospital with a chest complaint, at one stage being on a life-support machine.

But his illness did not deter him and as soon as was out of hospital he hurriedly raced to the telephone seeking work at his beloved disciplinary committees.

A popular individual he was also a good at predicting the outcome of cases and coined good phrases and headlines.

His funeral service, conducted by humanist Dennis Cobell, began with the Kinks’ song Dedicated Follower of Fashion and ended with Elton John’s Daniel, bringing tears of laughter and sadness to the eyes of the 40 or so mourners.

Stuart was sociable, thoughtful, renowned for his controversial dress sense, a good friend and a character to say the least. He will be sadly missed.

 

Brian Steed and Kelly Swain

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