John Junor

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Sir John Donald Brown Junor (15 January 1919 – 3 May 1997) was a Scottish journalist and editor-in-chief of the Sunday Express between 1954 and 1986,[1] having previously worked as a columnist there.[2] He then moved to The Mail on Sunday.

Early life[edit]

Born in Glasgow, he studied at Glasgow University and had a wartime commission in the Fleet Air Arm.[3] At Glasgow University he became president of the University Liberal Club, and later stood unsuccessfully three times for Parliament in Scotland for the Liberal Party.[4] In the 1945 General Election he contested Kincardine and Western Aberdeenshire. He then fought a by-election in 1947 for Edinburgh East, and finally was beaten at Dundee West in 1951. He was knighted in 1980.[5]


His Sunday Express column (which he continued to write in his years as editor-in-chief) was noted for recurrent catchphrases, two of them being "pass the sick-bag, Alice" and "I don't know, but I think we should be told". Junor frequently mentioned the small town of Auchtermuchty in Fife.[4]

Junor could be brutally forthright in his column. He once wrote: "[W]ith compatriots like these [the IRA Brighton bombers] wouldn't you rather admit to being a pig than be Irish?" Following complaints that the comment was racist, Junor was censured by the Press Council in May 1985.[6]

He was often lampooned in Private Eye where he was known as 'Sir Jonah Junor', and the Daily Express building on Fleet Street as 'the Black Lubyanka.'

Contempt of Parliament[edit]

On 24 January 1957, Junor was called to the Bar of the House of Commons to be reprimanded for contempt of Parliament[7] – the last non-politician to be so called.[8] The matter concerned an article about petrol allocation that appeared in the Sunday Express on 16 December 1956. Junor apologised:


Junor married in 1942, and had two children.[4] The journalist Penny Junor is his daughter,[3] and the journalist Sam Leith, his grandson.


  • The Best of JJ (1981)
  • Listening for a midnight tram: memoirs (1990)


  • Penny Junor (2002): Home Truths: Life Around My Father, ISBN 0-00-710213-5
  • Graham Lord (2012): Lord's Ladies and Gentlemen: 100 Legends of the 20th Century


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 23 February 2007. Retrieved 17 March 2007.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ a b Peregrine Worsthorne "Sympathy for the devil", New Statesman, 12 August 2002
  4. ^ a b c Julian Critchley Obituary: Sir John Junor[permanent dead link], The Independent, 5 May 1997
  5. ^ John Donald Brown Junor (1919 - 1997), Find A Grave Memorial
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 June 2011. Retrieved 18 May 2010.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) Press Gazette
  7. ^
  8. ^
Media offices
Preceded by
Deputy Editor of the Evening Standard
Succeeded by
Charles Wintour
Preceded by
Harold Keeble
Editor of the Sunday Express
Succeeded by
Robin Esser