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Bernard Shrimsley

Posted: June 13th, 2016

With thanks to ROY GREENSLADE and The Times
Photo: courtesy Press Gazette

Bernard Shrimsley, who edited The Sun, News of the World and Mail on Sunday, died on June 9 (2016), aged 85, at the Journalists’ Charity care home in Dorking. He had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

He began his career at 16 as a messenger boy with the Press Association in London and later spent five years on The Southport Guardian, interrupted by National Service.  His National Service done, he moved to Manchester where he became deputy editor of the Sunday Express and then northern editor of the Daily Mirror.

Driven and energetic, he managed to raise the circulation enough to come to the attention of the paper’s proprietor, Cecil King. King instructed Hugh Cudlipp, editorial director of the Mirror group, to bring Shrimsley to London “to be groomed for greater things”. The first that the Mirror’s editor Lee Howard knew of this was when Cudlipp brought Shrimsley into his office and said: “Lee, I’d like you to meet your new assistant editor in charge of features.”

His colleagues soon noted he was unlike the usual Mirror executives in one particular regard: he did not drink. “He also gave out a disturbing energy field,” recalled Mike Molloy, “as if he buzzed with ungrounded electricity.” Shrimsley’s time in the Mirror features office was popular with the staff because he insisted on doing much of the work himself, including rewriting everyone’s copy.

In 1969 Rupert Murdoch bought the ailing broadsheet Sun from the Mirror group, and editor Larry Lamb requested that Shrimsley, who had been moved sideways at the Mirror to edit the Liverpool Post, be brought in as his deputy.

In 1972, Shrimsley was appointed associate editor of the News of the World, and later that year became editor of The Sun. Three years on, he became editor of The News of the World where he stayed for five years, at that time an unusually long stint in the chair. He was launch editor of The Mail on Sunday, though the appointment was not a success.

Bernard Shrimsley spent the last 13 years of his career on the Daily Express, first as assistant editor, and then as associate editor to Nicholas Lloyd.

After retirement from mainstream journalism, Bernard Shrimsley became vice-chairman of the Press Council, the predecessor of the Press Complaints Commission, and a member of the D-notice committee. He also wrote three novels.

He’s remembered by family members as having a booming voice and real energy, “a sort of Peter Bowles figure. He was a huge presence in a room, but not in a boorish way”. And ”a wonderful family man, always immaculately dressed and with a laugh so loud it could shatter glass”.

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