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.