Ex-Times editor Rees-Mogg dies

December 30, 2012 - 2:50:12 am

LONDON: William Rees-Mogg, a former editor of Britain’s Times newspaper who famously backed Mick Jagger when the Rolling Stones singer was jailed for a drug offence, has died at the age of 84.

On its website, the Times said Rees-Mogg, a former chairman of the Arts Council and vice-chairman of the BBC, had been suffering from oesophageal cancer.

Rees-Mogg became editor of the paper in 1967 and, despite establishment credentials built up at independent school and Balliol College, Oxford, soon showed a rebellious streak. In July of that year, he published a celebrated leading article criticising the jailing of Jagger for a minor drugs offence, headlined: “Who Breaks a Butterfly on a Wheel?”

Later Rees-Mogg, in an article in the Times after he had stepped down as editor, described John Major, Conservative prime minister for most of the 1990s as “over-promoted, unfit to govern and lacking self-confidence”.

“His ideal level of political competence would be deputy chief whip or something of that standing,” he added, in a  contemptuous reference to Britain’s behind-the-scenes political party managers.

However Rees-Mogg stubbornly defended former U.S. President Richard Nixon against all the Watergate evidence filed by the Times’ Washington staff as the scandal that led to Nixon’s resignation in 1974 unfolded.

Reuters

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