Former editor of 'Times' dies aged 84


William Rees-Mogg, a former editor of Britain’s Times newspaper who famously backed Mick Jagger when the Rolling Stones singer was jailed for a drug offence, has died at the age of 84.

On its website, the Times said Rees-Mogg, a former chairman of the arts council and vice-chairman of the BBC, had been suffering from oesophageal cancer.

He became editor of the paper in 1967 and, despite establishment credentials built up at independent school and Balliol College, Oxford, soon showed a rebellious streak.

In July of that year, he published a celebrated leading article criticising the jailing of Jagger for a minor drugs offence, headlined: “Who Breaks a Butterfly on a Wheel?”

Later Rees-Mogg, in an article in the Times after he had stepped down as editor, described John Major, Conservative prime minister for most of the 1990s, as “over-promoted, unfit to govern and lacking self-confidence”.

“His ideal level of political competence would be deputy chief whip or something of that standing,” he added.

However, Rees-Mogg stubbornly defended former US president Richard Nixon against all the Watergate evidence filed by the Times’s Washington staff as the scandal that led to Nixon’s resignation in 1974 unfolded.

The Times was bought by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp in January 1981, at which point Rees-Mogg, who had backed the Murdoch purchase, resigned to make way for one of Britain’s most celebrated editors, Harold Evans. – (Reuters)