Tact in obituaries

Stewart Steven, who died of a heart attack yesterday, rose to the summit of British journalism despite, or perhaps because of, two monumentally false and expensive stories. He was the man who found Martin Bormann in 1972; and who, in 1978, was fooled by a letter suggesting that British Leyland kept a slush find for bribing foreign businessmen. But he was widely liked and a very successsful editor of the _Mail on Sunday_. Only the _Telegraph_’s obituary mentioned his earlier heart attack, in Brighton, in the Eighties, “Which, but for the prompt action of a colleague, might have been fatal”.

As I remember the story, the colleague in question was situated immediately underneath him, and her promptest action was to get some clothes on before the ambulance arrived. A lightly fictionalised verison of the scene opens a Julie Burchill novel.

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1 Response to Tact in obituaries

  1. Robert Nowell says:

    In the 1970s there was a French Canadian YV producer responsible for their programme La Cinquieme Dimension who twice told me in front of his wife that he would like to die making love to her. I thought privately this would be a bit tough on her and wondered what she thought of all this, but my French wasn’t good enough to make suitably tactful enquiries.

    I can’t help wondering if he has succeeded in fulfilling his ambition…

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