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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 October, 2004, 17:52 GMT 18:52 UK
Columnist Lynda Lee-Potter dies
Lynda Lee-Potter. Picture courtesy of Daily Mail
The Mail praised Lynda Lee Potter for her "incalculable contribution"
One of Britain's best-known columnists, Lynda Lee-Potter, has died aged 69 after suffering from a brain tumour.

The writer, who had been with the Daily Mail since 1967, died at her Dorset home on Wednesday morning.

Described by the paper as the "First Lady of Fleet Street", she was known for her acerbic wit.

Editor-in-chief Paul Dacre said her weekly column and interviews had "made an incalculable contribution to the paper's success".

Describing her as a "giant of journalism", he said she would be greatly missed by colleagues and readers.

He said: "Lynda's genius was in putting into simple words what millions of ordinary people were thinking - articulating, without talking down to them, not only their dreams, but also their anger and frustration.

"An unashamed optimist, Lynda had an unshakeable faith in the decency of the quiet British majority."

I never worry about hurting people's feelings; if you have that anxiety, you shouldn't be doing this job
Lynda Lee-Potter

Born Lynda Higginson into a Lancastrian mining family, she was a drama school graduate who moved to London aged 18.

In 1957 she married medical student Jeremy Lee-Potter, who as an RAF doctor was later posted to Aden, in Yemen, where she began her journalistic career writing for the Aden Chronicle.

She joined the Mail as a feature writer in 1967 and became a columnist in 1972, taking over from Jean Rook.

Awards

BBC media correspondent Torin Douglas said: "To many, Lynda Lee-Potter was the best newspaper columnist of either sex - opinionated, often unkind, occasionally funny, but always immensely readable.

"With her finger on the pulse of Middle England, she became the authentic voice of the Daily Mail."

Mrs Lee-Potter won numerous journalism awards, most recently Columnist of the Year for the second time at the 2001 British Press Awards.

Her column was a combination of sound common sense and incisive comment. She will be missed.

She was well known for her barbed comments about people in the news, particularly women.

She once said: "I can only write being honest and true to my opinions. I never worry about hurting people's feelings, if you have that anxiety, you shouldn't be doing this job."

Former Downing Street spokesman Alastair Campbell once said of Cherie Blair's full wardrobe: "It is not as if she wants to splash out, but she knows that unless she looks good, Lynda Lee-Potter will slag her off for looking frumpy."

Mrs Lee-Potter wrote the last of her regular columns in May. The Daily Mail began carrying a note at her request that she had been ill, but hoped to return.

Her last piece was an interview with Gloria Hunniford, who spoke for the first time about the death of her daughter Caron Keating.

'Soft centre'

On Wednesday Ms Hunniford said she decided to do the interview because she and her daughter had respected Mrs Lee-Potter as a writer.

"She came to my house and because it was only five weeks after Caron died it was still so raw. I wept throughout the interview and Lynda wept with me. We were two mothers together," she said.

"She could certainly be harsh but she had a soft centre. I will remember her as a woman full of passion and compassion."

The columnist was awarded the OBE in 1998 for her charity work and journalism.

She is survived by her husband and three children, Charlie, Emma and Adam, who all followed her into journalism. She also leaves behind four grandchildren.





SEE ALSO:
Lynda Lee-Potter: Your tributes
20 Oct 04  |  Have Your Say


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