Mentor to Murdoch and TSL Education dies at 91

Diane Spencer

Sir Edward Pickering, who died last Friday aged 91, served as executive vice-chairman of Times Newspapers for 20 years, and as chairman of TSL Education Limited for the past 14 years. In the latter capacity, he oversaw publication of The TES and its sister papers.

His distinguished career in the newspaper industry spanned eight decades and he worked with four of the great press barons: the second Viscount Rothermere, Lord Beaverbrook, Cecil Harmsworth King and Rupert Murdoch.

Mr Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of The News Corporation, parent company of The Times and the supplements, said: "Sir Edward will be remembered as a colossal figure in British newspapers. The industry has lost an incomparable institution; our company has lost a guide whose wisdom was drawn upon until the last. I have lost a great mentor and a true friend, a man in whom I placed my unreserved trust for 50 years."

Just after he graduated from Oxford in 1953, Mr Murdoch worked on the sub-editors' desk at the Daily Express, where Sir Edward was deputy editor.

"He taught me more about newspapers in six weeks than I have learnt since," he recalled at a reception to mark Sir Edward's 90th birthday. When Mr Murdoch acquired Times Newspapers, he invited Sir Edward out of retirement to help him to run his new enterprise.

Sir Edward became a staunch supporter of the supplements, ensuring that The TES never lost an issue during the turbulent strikes and boycotts following the move to Wapping in the mid-1980s. He helped to win a High Court case against Derbyshire County Council because it used ratepayers' money to place job advertisements in the more expensive Guardian rather than The TES as the Labour-led council was boycotting Murdoch's papers.

James MacManus, chief executive officer of TSL Education, said "As chairman of News International's educational publishing business Sir Edward's enthusiasm for the journalism we produced and the people who wrote, subbed, designed and otherwise helped get the papers out, never wavered. I cannot count the number of times I have walked into his office for our twice-weekly meetings to find him buried deep in The TES or The THES or The TLS and to hear the words, 'This is very good, you know, very good indeed.'


Les Hinton, executive chairman of News International, said: "What made Sir Edward so rare was the generosity with which he shared all he knew. It is impossible to count the occasions when his counsel saved the day during periods of great difficulty. He was a great friend and a brilliant teacher."

Edward Davies Pickering was born in Middlesbrough in 1912 and educated at Middlesbrough high school. He decided to be a journalist instead of going to university and worked on The Northern Echo before moving to the Daily Mirror and then to the Daily Mail. He was knighted in 1977 when he ostensibly retired. He was also a talented jazz pianist and had a long association with St Bride's, the Fleet Street church.

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Diane Spencer

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