Newspaper legend Charles Wilson, who edited several titles, dies aged 87

Charles Wilson, former editor of The Times, has died at the age of 87, friends of his family have said.

The former journalist and newspaper executive died on Wednesday night at The London Clinic following a brief illness.

A prominent figure in the media industry, Mr Wilson was born in Glasgow and first worked for the News Chronicle and the Daily Mail before editing the Glasgow Evening Times, The Glasgow Herald and the Scottish Sunday Standard.

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He served as deputy editor of the Times from 1982 to 1985 before becoming editor between 1985 and 1990.

A photograph of Charles Wilson taken in 1985 when he was 50 and had been named as the new editor of The Times. Photo: PA Wire/PA Images
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He also edited the Independent briefly in 1995 and 1996.

It was under Wilson’s editorship that Boris Johnson was fired for fabricating a quote – one of only three people sacked under his leadership despite a “reputation for harshness”.

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Mr Wilson was managing director of the Mirror Group in the 1990s and editor-in-chief of The Sporting Life.

He had a lifelong interest in horse racing and was a member of the Jockey Club and an owner and breeder at his home in Leicestershire.

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Former sports editor Tom Clarke was among those paying tribute.

He said: “Charlie hired me for The Times and later for The Sporting Life.

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“I regarded him as a great editor, transforming The Times from the paper of record into the paper of record and news. He was the first sports editor to become an editor.”

Friend and colleague Charles Garside said: “Charlie Wilson played a pivotal role in the pre and post-Wapping history of newspapers.

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“He had a simply amazing career for a young man who began life in the streets of the east end of Glasgow.

“A former marine boxing champion, he was a tough taskmaster who loved journalism and newspapers.

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“And he had more than a ringside seat for so many great events.

“He worked closely with Rupert Murdoch through the Wapping battles and for Maxwell when the Mirror tycoon disappeared from the Lady Ghislaine.”

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Mr Wilson is survived by his wife of 21 years, Rachel, his three children, Emma, Luke and Lily and seven grandchildren.

He was previously married to broadcaster and TV presenter Anne Robinson and journalist Sally O’Sullivan.

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There will be a a memorial service at St Bride’s Church on Fleet Street on a date to be announced.

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