Former NS President Sir Gordon Linacre Dies

Former Newspaper Society president Sir Gordon Linacre has died at the age of 94.

A leading figure in the local newspaper industry, Sir Gordon, also a winner of the NS’ president’s prize, was made chief executive of the United Newspapers group in 1983.

Sir Gordon was born in Sheffield and went on to become a reporter on the Sheffield Independent at the age of 17, the Yorkshire Post reported.

The day after the out-break of World War Two, Sir Gordon joined the RAF and became a bomber pilot going on to be awarded the DFC.

Sir Gordon received the Air Force Cross in 1943. By the time he left the RAF in 1946, he had been shot down three times, and had been promoted to squadron leader.

At the end of the war he was offered a regular commission, but turned it down so as to pursue his chosen career in journalism, and got a job as a sub editor on the Sunday Graphic.

He went from there to the Kemsley News Service, and then to the North East where he was assistant editor of the Newcastle Journal, and assistant editor of the Evening Chronicle.

In 1958 he was appointed editor of the Sheffield Star and he went on to become executive director of Thomson Regional Newspapers in 1963.

He then became managing director of Yorkshire Conservative Newspapers (YCN), which owned The Yorkshire Post and the Yorkshire Evening Post in 1965.

There followed negotiations with the United Newspapers group for a merger, in which Yorkshire Post Newspapers (YPN) would remain an independent entity while Sir Gordon and another board member joined the board of United Newspapers, and three United Newspaper directors joined the board of the YPN.

In 1981, he became deputy chairman and joint managing director of United Newspapers before being appointed chief executive in 1983. The company acquired Link House, Express Newspapers, Morgan-Grampian and Extel.

Its regional newspaper division, of which Sir Gordon was made chairman, eventually owned 130 titles in England, Wales and Scotland.

From 1973 to 1977, he was president of INCA/FIEJ, the German-based research organisation, on whose behalf he travelled extensively, meeting with numerous heads of state, including Richard Nixon and the Crown Prince and Princess of Japan.

He was president of the NS in 1978-79.

He remained chairman of YPN until 1990, when he was made the company’s first president. In that year he was awarded the NS’ president’s prize. He had been knighted in 1986.

The Italian and Finnish governments gave him awards equivalent to an English knighthood.

Sir Gordon discharged himself from hospital in order to receive a lifetime achievement award from the Variety Club Business Awards in 2009.

He was a director of English National Opera and chairman of Opera North.

Fit, active, sporting and highly companionable, he played golf seriously. In addition to his regular games, he was a keen hill walker and an enthusiastic fly fisherman.

From 2000 until 2013 he made an annual trip to fish for salmon on the Russian Kola peninsular within the Arctic Circle, and last year on the Spey landed a 9lb salmon.

Sir Gordon is survived by his daughters Anthea and Philippa.