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Ex-journalist’s death linked to Stepping Hill probe

The death of a former Manchester Evening News journalist is being examined by police investigating the sabotage of saline drips at Stepping Hill hospital, it emerged last night.

Bill Dickson, who was news editor at the paper in the 1970s and 1980s, had his saline poisoned while being treated at the Stockport hospital over the summer, and eventually died on New Year’s Eve.

The 82-year-old former journalist, from Cheadle Hulme, is the fourth person to die after having previously having had their drips tampered with, although police have yet to establish a causal link between the sabotage and any of the four deaths.

The news emerged following the arrest last night of a 46-year-old male nurse over claims that medical forms were altered and a patient given extra medication.

The man, from Stockport, was arrested under section 23 of the Offences Against the Person Act – namely unlawfully or maliciously administering or causing to be taken by another person any poison or destructive or noxious thing so as to endanger life or inflict grievous bodily harm.

A police spokesman said that the patient who was allegedly given additional amounts of medication was monitored by hospital staff and has since been discharged.

During his career on the MEN, Glasgow-born Mr Dickson oversaw the paper’s coverage of some of the biggest stories of the time, including the Yorkshire Ripper murders, the marriage of Charles and Diana, the Falklands War and the Lockerbie bombing.

He was remembered by former colleagues for his calmness under pressure and dry sense of humour – and for being a stickler for accuracy.

Born in 1929, Mr Dickson worked on papers in North Shields and Bridlington before landing a reporting role on the MEN in 1954 – the first of two stints on the paper.

He formed a friendship with the future Sunday Times editor Harold Evans – then also an MEN journalist – with whom he shared a passion for table tennis.

After two years he moved to the Daily Mail’s Manchester office, rising through the ranks to become its news editor for the north, but returned to the MEN in 1971, becoming news editor shortly afterwards.

His youngest son Drew, 42 – himself an MEN journalist – remembered his dad as a ‘very funny’ man, saying: “None of his colleagues ever had a bad word to say about him.”

Mr Dickson retired from journalism in 1991.

He is survived by his wife, Jean, 80, their three children – Craig, 55, Kathy, 53 and Drew and three grandchildren: Sophie, 17, Isabella, eight and Lucy, five.


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  • January 6, 2012 at 11:17 am

    Bill was a superb news editor under three editors, something of an achievement in itself. He could be very tough but was also always very fair, helped by his wondrful laconic wit. Consequently, his very talented colleagues had huge respect for him – and there can be no greater praise than that.

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  • January 6, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    I remember the MEN in the 70s and 80s when it was as professional, newsy, and well designed as a national. Not surprised to hear someone of Bill’s calibre had a hand on the tiller.

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