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Charles Cospatrick Douglas-Home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Charles Cospatrick Douglas-Home (1 September 1937 – 29 October 1985) was a Scottish journalist who served as editor of The Times from 1982 until his death.

Summary: educated at Eton; commissioned into the Royal Scots Greys, 1956; ADC to Sir Evelyn Baring as Governor of Kenya, 1958-1959; military correspondent, 1961-1962 and political and diplomatic correspondent, 1962-1964 for the Daily Express; correspondent for The Times, 1965-1985; defence correspondent, 1965-1970; publication of The Arabs and Israel (1968) and Britain's Reserve Forces (1969); features editor, 1970-1973; publication of Rommel (1973); home editor, 1973-1978; publication of Evelyn Baring the last Proconsul (1978); foreign editor, 1978-1981; deputy editor, 1981-1982; editor, 1982-1985;


Douglas-Home was the younger son of the Honourable Henry Douglas-Home (from his first marriage to Lady Margaret Spencer) and a nephew of the former British Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home. He was educated at Eton College (where he was a King's Scholar) and then went into the British Army in 1956 in the Royal Scots Greys. On leaving the Army he worked briefly selling books and encyclopaedias, went to Canada for a few months, and then served as aide-de-camp to Sir Evelyn Baring who was Governor of Kenya.

When he returned to the UK he wanted to work in television but was quickly rejected because his accent and approach appeared wrong and he had no journalistic training. This led him to go into newspapers and he worked on the Scottish Daily Express covering breaking news. Douglas-Home found the work dull and was about to resign before he was promoted to be the deputy to Chapman Pincher, the respected Defence correspondent of the Daily Express in London. This job was fascinating to Douglas-Home, and confirmed him in his career.

After eighteen months, Douglas-Home became the principal political and diplomatic correspondent of the Express. However he disagreed with the paper's opposition to British entry to the European Communities and with relief in 1965 was appointed to succeed Alun Gwynne-Jones as The Times Defence Correspondent. He covered the Six Days War and the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. From 1970 he was features editor, and in 1973 he became home editor.
William Rees-Mogg was impressed with Douglas-Home's approach and made him foreign editor in 1978. He was a candidate for the editorship when Rupert Murdoch took over the paper in 1981, but Harold Evans was appointed instead. However a year later Murdoch and Evans had a spectacular falling-out over issues of editorial independence, and Douglas-Home was finally appointed. He edited The Times between 1982 and 1985. He stabilised the paper, which was in a parlous state because of the year long closure it had suffered and the shock caused by the sacking of his predecessor, Harold Evans, and then began a steady process of improvement. Although firmly Conservative in the editorial line he adopted in the paper's leaders, he was strongly committed to the tradition of impartial news reporting. He continued to edit the paper with great courage through a long and painful illness.

He died of cancer aged only 48. He left a widow Jessica Gwynne and two sons Tara (born 1969) and Luke (born 1971). He was succeeded as editor by Charles Wilson.

The Charles Douglas-Home Memorial Trust Award was named after him. It was established after he died and is given to a writer who writes an article in the areas of defence, foreign affairs, democracy, the royal prerogative in the 21st century or music.

 

 

 

 

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Last modified: Saturday, 18 March 2017