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Tributes are paid to Frank Palmer

Journalists throughout the UK will remember Frank Palmer with gratitude and affection.

The 66-year-old author, who was the Daily Mirror’s man in the East Midlands for more than 20 years, died on Thursday at Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre. He suffered a heart attack following an operation on a burst appendix.

He will never be forgotten by scores of national and regional reporters who had a helping hand from one of the best newsmen in the business.

Alastair Campbell, now the Prime Minister’s spokesman, worked with Mr Palmer at the Mirror.

He recalled: “He taught young journalists like me everything about good, old-fashioned journalism.”

Mr Palmer started his career with the Lincoln Chronicle and the Lincolnshire Echo in the 1950s.

After National Service, during which he worked as a military shorthand writer based in Paris, Mr Palmer returned to Lincoln. He set up the Eastern News Service in the front room of his mother’s house before getting offices in the city.

He went on to join the Manchester office of the Daily Express before joining the Daily Mirror.

He was the first journalist to interview Sir Matt Busby after the Munich Air disaster and achieved the rare feat of writing the front and back page leads for the Daily Express on the same day.

In 1978 he won Reporter of the Year at the British Press Awards for his scoop on the year’s most sensational trial, which came to be known as the sex-in-chains case, involving Joyce McKinney who kidnapped a Mormon missionary with whom she was obsessed.

The previous year, he had helped Richard Stott – who later became editor of the Daily Mirror – to gain the same award with an exclusive about match-fixing by Leeds United manager Don Revie.

Mr Stott described Mr Palmer as “a really fine, good, old-fashioned reporter”.

“He was a terrific example to anyone coming into the business now,” he added.

Mr Palmer would never let go of a good exclusive, but he always had time to guide and advise youngsters starting out in newspapers. Hospitality at his Keyworth home was legendary. He loved cricket, football, classical music and had a great sense of humour.

Bob Turner, ex-Daily Mail staff man and former News Editor of the Nottingham Evening Post, remembered: “I first met him well over 20 years ago on a very tragic story about a group of Army cadets who went over a weir on the River Trent. I was very raw, but he steered me in the right direction and taught me a lot.

“He was loyal to his profession, loyal to the Mirror and loyal to his colleagues. He was a remarkable man who can never be replaced.”

Journalist Andy Blow, who was trained by Mr Palmer and eventually took over the Lincoln news agency from him, said: “Many journalists benefitted from his experience and several employees at the agency went on to successful national newspaper careers.”

In 1991, Mr Palmer took early retirement to finally write the detective novel that had been running through his head for years. He proved to be a talented writer in this area too, and went on to produce 16 compelling novels – the latest of which, Todd’s Law, will be in bookshops from June 29.

Commissioning editor for London-based publishers Constable, Tara Lawrence, said: “He was a master of keeping the reader guessing right until the end and his two main characters are distinguished for their humanity and humour, which says an awful lot about Frank.”

A keen member of the National Union of Journalists, he was also vice-president of Keyworth Cricket Club and a life-long Lincoln City fan who returned to the terraces whenever he could.

His wife, Ann, died five years ago. He leaves two sons, Mark and Nick, and four grandchildren.

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