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Editor pays tribute to columnist Peter Bossley

The death of award-winning Sentinel and Sentinel Sunday columnist Peter Bossley at the age of 42 was a shock to colleagues and friends alike.
His editor Sean Dooley pays tribute in an article which first appeared in the Sentinel Sunday.

Newspaper comment is a notoriously difficult world to negotiate without having to tack some personal judgement to the news agenda of the hour. Peter Bossley, who died unexpectedly at the age of 42, was a journalist who never strayed from his fundamental values and basic humanity.

Born in Billingham, Teesside, he flirted with several potential callings from photography to rock music, each of which proved a useful if unconventional foundation for a career in newspapers, at the South Manchester Reporter, the Burton Daily Mail and finally Staffordshire Sentinel Newspapers. It was, he said later, like a misfit rolling up at the funny farm and feeling instantly at home.

One early fling that was to impact heavily on his later professional life was with the infamous Macc Lads, a cult rock group of the 1980s which devoted itself less to storming the charts than to railing against the march of Thatcherism, primarily by attempting to demolish any remaining barriers against obscenity in contemporary music.

As band manager, his stage appearances as the self-styled Al O’Peesha were limited. Not so his anti-Maggie crusade which was a lifelong obsession born out of experiences during the closure of mining communities in the North East. It was a ruling passion that was to translate from the crude lyrics of the group to the articulate and acerbic logic of newspaper columns that were to win him regional and national awards.

Thatcherism was only one of several themes he seized on and unashamedly returned to, often just when it seemed his outrage had run its course. In column after column he would invent new ways to savage not just the legacy of Tory rule in the 80s but the intellect of George Bush, the conduct of the BNP and his constant bete noire of British public life, the Daily Mail. Often a trifle inconvenient for his editor, as the Mail is part of DMGT, ultimate owners of The Sentinel.

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