Colleagues of Keith Dovkants gathered in Soho to mark his departure from the London Evening Standard after more than 30 years.
At a four-hour lunch at Noel Botham’s French House in Dean Street, former work friends heaped praise on Dovkants, who also shifted for many years as a regular Saturday casual at the Sunday Mirror, where he was regularly begged to come on board as a staffer by a succession of editors.
John McShane, former associate editor of both the Daily and Sunday Mirror, said: “He really was the complete reporter and managed to combine an amazing ability to discover and assemble facts with an intelligent, writing style that was accessible to all – yet in no way ever dumbed down to readers.
“He presented complex issues and hard news stories in the same literate, informative style.”
Author Wensley Clarkson, who worked with Keith at the Sunday Mirror, said: “He’s quite simply one of the greatest operators I’ve ever come across.
“He has a very special combination of charm and sensitivity, which has helped him pull off some of the greatest scoops of the past three decades.”
Lesley Yarranton, who worked with Keith on the Standard, added: “He gave me my first job on the Standard at a time when I was just one of hundreds of Fleet Street hopefuls who came up from the provinces every year.
“The first time I met him, I was on a rain-soaked doorstep on a grimy council housing estate to which he had turned up in his trademark silk tie and double-breasted jacket looking as if he was late for dinner at the Savoy.”
Pictured left to right: John McShane, ex-Daily and Sunday Mirror associate editor; freelance Tony Bushby; Tribune editor Chris McClaughlin; Keith Richmond; Phil Dampier, royal author and PR consultant; Keith; author Wensley Clarkson; freelance Shekhar Bhatia; Jon Chandler; Jolyon Wilde, former Fleet Street reporter and New York correspondent; freelances Lesley Yarranton and Geoff Garvey.