Saturday, March 29, 2014

Chapman Pincher-- reporter, patriot

The best kind of Fleet Street hack turns 100 today.

A good, old-fashioned hack: Chapman Pincher at 100

When I was a schoolboy the only newspaper we were supplied with was the Daily Express. In those days it outsold all others and boasted 6 million readers. The star front-page scoop reporter was one Chapman Pincher. Even the name was redolent of Bulldog Drummond and Biggles.

Harry Chapman Pincher: Ex-Daily Express journalist turns 100

His employers called him "the lone wolf of Fleet Street", the man who got the stories other journalists seemed to miss.

For over 30 years, until his retirement in 1979, Harry Chapman Pincher was the defence and science correspondent for the Daily Express, then Britain's biggest-selling daily newspaper.

Few military or atomic secrets in the 1950s and 60s were safe from Pincher.

His contacts in the scientific and military establishment brought him one exclusive after another.

In retirement he turned his attention to espionage, producing a string of controversial books alleging Soviet penetration of MI5 at the very highest level.

His memoirs have just been published and he says he is at work on another book.
Writing another book when he is a hundred years old. Amazing.

This anecdote is telling.

And when he discovered that one of his best contacts, the general secretary of a civil service union with access to top secret establishments, was a communist, he was deeply alarmed.

When the man announced he was retiring and that his successor was to be another communist, Pincher promptly shopped the would-be successor to the authorities, who somehow ensured that he didn't get the job.

"I knew what my duty was as an Englishman," he told me.
Quite a contrast to the attitudes expressed by US journalists like Mike Wallace and Pinch Sulzberger.

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