Scotland on Sunday founding editor dies, aged 89

Founding editor Alastair Stuart died aged 89.
Founding editor Alastair Stuart died aged 89.
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Leading journalists today paid tribute to Scotland on Sunday (SoS) founding editor Alastair Stuart, who has died aged 89.

Edinburgh-born Mr Stuart, who became a CBE in 1998, was also editor-in-chief and editorial director of Thomson Regional Newspapers, which owned the titles.

He oversaw the launch of SoS in 1988, staying at the helm for several months, having also been The Scotsman’s London editor.

When the first edition was delivered to the newspaper’s offices, he told staff: “We have all been in on the start of a great new enterprise. Now all we have to do is do it again, and again, and again, because a great future lies ahead.”

Born in 1927, Mr Stuart won a scholarship to George Heriot’s School in Edinburgh and there was never any doubt in his mind that he was going to follow his father into the newspaper profession.

After National Service and completing his degree at Edinburgh University, his first full-time job was as a sub-editor on the Edinburgh Evening Dispatch.

Mr Stuart travelled widely over his career, working in newspapers in Kenya and Nigeria.

Magnus Linklater, editor of The Scotsman when SoS was launched, said: “I trusted his judgment greatly.

“He was a wise old bird. He knew journalism extremely well and knew Scotland even better.“

Brian Groom, who was Mr Stuart’s deputy at SoS before later becoming editor, said: “He was courteous and kind, but never tolerated woolly thinking or sloppy writing.

“It was a privilege to work with Alastair in creating SoS.

“At an age when most people would be thinking of winding down - and not in the best of health - he undertook this adventurous task with dedication, humour and a determination not to be hidebound by conventional thinking.

“He once said: ‘I’d like to banish the stereotype of the whingeing Scot’.

“We all owe him a debt of gratitude for creating a paper that, over nearly three decades, has produced some of Scotland’s finest journalism.”

John Marquis, who worked with Mr Stuart when he was chief London editor of Thomson Regional Newspapers, said: “He was a very able, astute and charming man who taught me a lot about management.

“He was an excellent judge of character who led the London team with cool efficiency, providing a fine news, sport and features service for a group of around 16 dailies.”

Mr Stuart’s influential role also saw him invited to be one of those who decided how newspapers should handle national secrets as a member of the D-notice committee, now the Defence and Security Media Advisory Committee.

He was married to Anne Stuart for 64 years after they met at university. He leaves three children, Catriona, Lewis and Hamish, and four grandchildren, Calum, Shona, Cara and Aidan.

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