Harold Evans

Sir Harold Evans, former editor of the Sunday Times and Northern Echo, died last week. The obituaries have painted a picture of a hugely impressive and influential figure.

By James Evelegh

Harold Evans
"Sir Harry was voted the greatest newspaper editor of all time – and nobody could argue with that."

“The long life of Sir Harold Evans was an epic of decency, courage and moral determination,” wrote Simon Schama, in TIME.

His “career is a supreme reminder of the indispensability of fearless journalism to a democracy grounded in truth… Evans showed time and again that the hard work of uncompromising investigative reporting could defeat cowardly cover-ups, corruption and conspiracies of lies. He wrote and he edited with a fistful of facts.”

Evans, who died on 23rd September, aged 92, has been the deserved subject of much eulogising this week.

Writing in the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger wrote of the former Sunday Times and Northern Echo editor: “He could do it all. Write like a dream; design with impact; edit with flair; dash off the perfect headline; crop a picture; see off a writ. There was no one who knew more about the craft of journalism, nor anyone to match his passion for communicating that craft – documented in numerous textbooks that were, in turn, studied by generations of would-be journalists.”

“He knew why journalism mattered,” continued Rusbridger; “He gave journalism a good name. He reminded us why we wanted to be journalists and what, at its best, journalism could – and should – be. None of us should forget that.”

Peter Sands, editor of The Northern Echo from 1989–1993, told the Society of Editors how “his presence was always there in the Echo building and made me, and his other successors, determined to carry on the campaigning tradition he introduced to the paper. He changed the way newspapers operated – from covering community news to actually getting things done, tackling injustice and righting wrongs. Sir Harry was voted the greatest newspaper editor of all time – and nobody could argue with that.”