Court agency boss Tony Asciak has died, aged 51, signalling the end of an era for magistrates’ court reporting.
Asciak began and ended his career reporting on London’s magistrates’ courts.
People journalist James Millbank, who previously worked with Asciak, said: "He was the best court reporter I’ve come across, bar none. His passing will leave a huge hole."
The agency, which operated under a variety of names, began life in 1886. It started in the cells of the Great Marlborough Street court where reporters would sit with the prisoners and defendants and then come up with them and follow their cases as they came into court.
Millbank said: "The tradition was that the agency was passed on to the apprentice reporters every 20 to 30 years, whenever the older chap passed on. This time it is the end of that tradition — I can’t see it being passed on. It’s a very sad time."
Six years ago Asciak started reducing the size of his agency and towards the end he was working on his own.
One of Asciak’s finest moments was getting the story when the wife of then Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson appeared in court for drink driving at 9am — more than an hour before business usually started.
Sun crime editor Mike Sullivan said: "Tony got the story which made the front pages everywhere. If the same thing happened tomorrow — if someone in authority got into trouble and appeared before the magistrates courts — the story wouldn’t get covered."