Charles Douglas-Home (journalist)

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For other people named Charles Douglas-Home, see Charles Douglas-Home (disambiguation).

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.

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. Born in London, 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 spent nine months in Canada, supporting himself by selling books and encyclopaedias. He then served as aide-de-camp to Sir Evelyn Baring who was Governor of Kenya, at the height of the Mau Mau insurgency. During that year (1958–9) Douglas-Home found his taste for international politics. He later wrote the biography Evelyn Baring: the Last Proconsul (1978).[1]

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.[1] Douglas-Home found the work dull and was about to resign[citation needed] when the paper's proprietor, Beaverbrook Newspapers, promoted him 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. Through his family connections, Douglas-Home built a network of contacts through parliament and Whitehall.[1]

After eighteen months, Douglas-Home became the principal political and diplomatic correspondent of the Express.[citation needed] However he disagreed with the paper's opposition to British entry to the European Communities[citation needed] 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.[1]

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 with Douglas-Home as his deputy.[1] However a year later Murdoch and Evans had a spectacular falling-out over issues of editorial independence,[citation needed] 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. Under his leadership The Times doubled its circulation to 500,000.[1] Although firmly Conservative in the editorial line he adopted in the paper's leaders, Douglas-Home 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.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Howard, Philip, "Home, Charles Cospatrick Douglas- (1937–1985)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press; online edition, accessed 15 August 2014 (subscription required)
  2. ^ "Charles Douglas-Home Memorial Trust Competition". Frontline Club News. 11 March 2010. Retrieved 15 August 2014. 
Media offices
Preceded by
Louis Heren
Deputy Editor of The Times
1981–1982
Succeeded by
Charles Wilson
Preceded by
Harold Evans
Editor of The Times
1982-1985
Succeeded by
Charles Wilson