Chairman dies at 91

August 15, 2003

Sir Edward Pickering, who has chaired the company that publishes The THES for the past 14 years, has died at the age of 91.

Although not a household name outside the world of journalism, Sir Edward was one of the giants of the newspaper industry. In a career spanning eight decades, he served four great press barons - Viscount Rothermere, Lord Beaverbrook, Cecil Harmsworth King and Rupert Murdoch.

He edited the Daily Express at its peak in the early 1960s and went on to chair Mirror Group Newspapers during its period of greatest influence.

Brought out of retirement to become executive vice-chairman of Times Newspapers soon after Mr Murdoch bought the company in 1981, he was in his office at 8.30 every morning until shortly before his death.

Sir Edward took a particular interest in the Times Supplements, appointing the editors and often offering advice. During the Wapping dispute of 1985-86, he negotiated agreements that enabled the three titles to maintain uninterrupted publication.

Mr Murdoch, who said he learnt more about newspapers in six months working for Sir Edward as a young sub-editor than at any time since, questioned whether his record would ever be matched. "I have lost a great mentor and a true friend, a man in whom I placed my unreserved trust for 50 years."

Sir Edward was born in 1912 and educated at Middlesbrough High School. He served in the Royal Artillery and on General Eisenhower's staff in the war.

He was knighted in 1977, when he retired from the Mirror Group. On his 90th birthday, however, he recalled the words of the late Lord Hailsham, who said: "There comes a time when it is too late to retire."

James MacManus, chief executive officer of TSL Education, said: "As chairman of News International's educational publishing business, Sir Edward's enthusiasm for the journalism we produced and the people who wrote, subbed, designed and otherwise helped get the papers out, never wavered. I cannot count the number of times I have walked into his office for our twice-weekly meetings to find him buried deep in The THES or The TES or The TLS to hear the words, 'This is very good, you know, very good indeed.'"

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