Drew Webster: respected and influential Lobby correspondent

Andrew (Drew) Webster, former London editor for United Newspapers, Lobby correspondent and chairman of the Newspaper Conference, has died, aged 80.

As a young reporter in Glasgow, Webster was know for his speedy shorthand and silver tongue –in fact, he met his wife-to-be, Jan, when both were reporting at the police court there.

The young couple moved to London, where he began to specialise in politics, eventually becoming a Lobby correspondent at Westminster.

Webster, chairman of the Newspaper Conference in 1968, made a name for himself in the Parliamentary Press Gallery as a forthright champion of newspapermen’s rights, especially during his period as chairman of the Lobby. His paper Partners in Parliament was influential in improving relations between MPs and journalists. Newspapermen and politicians alike respected him.

Colin Brannigan, who edited the Star, Sheffield, then one of United’s titles, and a former national president of the guild of Editors, said: “Drew was from an era when spin was unheard of. He personified tact, integrity and the protection of sources, which he would have regarded simply as confidentiality.

“He preferred knowledge to rumour. It may seem old-fashioned if not out-dated today, but it was this blend that opened doors for him in Parliament and Whitehall that might have remained closed to others.”

Webster retired in the early Eighties, having received the OBE for services to journalism, particularly the training of young journalists. He and his wife settled in Macclesfield and they enjoyed many good years before illness and Jan’s disability made life challenging. Jan, a successful novelist, died last October.

He is survived by daughter Lyn, a writer, and son Stephen, a painter.

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