Sir Harold Evans: Former Sunday Times editor dies aged 92

Former Sunday Times editor Sir Harold Evans has died at the age of 92, the Reuters news agency has reported.

The British-American journalist, who led an investigation into the drug Thalidomide, died of heart failure in New York, his wife Tina Brown said.

His 70-year career also saw him work as a magazine founder, book publisher, author and – at the time of his death – Reuters’ editor-at-large.

Sir Harold was editor of the Sunday Times for 13 years.

He then went on to become the founding editor of Conde Nast Traveller magazine and later president of the publishing giant, Random House.

One of Britain and America’s best-known journalists, Sir Harold also wrote several books about the press and in 2003 was given a knighthood.

Sir Harold forged his reputation as editor of the Northern Echo in the 1960s, where his campaigns resulted in a national screening programme for cervical cancer and a posthumous pardon for Timothy Evans, wrongly hanged for murder in 1950.

During his tenure as editor of the Sunday Times, his notable campaigns included fighting the Distillers Company for greater compensation for the victims of Thalidomide.

But he said campaigns should be selective, and he deplored what he saw as the invasion of privacy by the British tabloid press.

Thalidomide, which first appeared in the UK in 1958, was prescribed to expectant mothers to control the symptoms of morning sickness.

However, hundreds of these mothers in Britain, and many thousands across the world, gave birth to children with missing limbs, deformed hearts, blindness and other problems.

Sir Harold’s campaign, launched in 1972, eventually forced the UK manufacturer, Distillers Company – at the time the Sunday Times’s biggest advertiser – to increase the compensation received by victims.

He also fought a legal injunction to stop the paper revealing the drug’s developers had not gone through the proper testing procedures.

Sir Harold also edited the Times, but after a public falling-out with Rupert Murdoch, left with his second wife, Tina Brown, for New York.

There she edited Vanity Fair and the New Yorker, while he became founding editor of Conde Nast magazine and later president of Random House.

In 2011, at the age of 82, Sir Harold was appointed editor-at-large at Reuters, the organisation’s editor-in-chief describing him as “one of the greatest minds in journalism”.

Sir Harold was born on 28 June 1928 in Eccles, Lancashire, now in Greater Manchester, the son of Welsh parents.

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