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Farewell to a great regional press journalist

Earlier this week on HoldtheFrontPage we carried news of the sudden death of long-standing regional lobby correspondent Ian Craig, who until earlier this year was political editor of the Manchester Evening News.

It is always sad when a journalist passes away, but the reaction to Ian’s death and the breadth of the tributes that have been paid to him demonstrate that he was someone of very high renown within our profession.

The tributes were led by no less a figure than former premier Tony Blair, and others have appeared on Manchester Online, North West media website How Do, online memorials site Lasting Tribute, and the Newspaper Society website.

As I knew Ian personally from my lobby days, I have also posted my own memories of him on my personal blog.

Here’s a selection of what has been said this week about this great regional press journalist.

Tony Blair, former Prime Minister

"It is truly shocking to hear this news. Ian interviewed me on a number of occasions and always struck me as a very talented journalist and a true gentleman. He has been a real credit to his profession, to British politics and to Manchester."

Mike Unger, former editor of the MEN

"Ian’s death is a great, great loss. He was one of the great political journalists of his generation, with an outstanding record in both local and national politics. He was quiet, thoughtful, intelligent and hugely calm under pressure. It was a privilege to be friends with him for more than 35 years. And the genuine outpouring of grief and happy memories has been unbelievable. He will be truly missed."

David Hencke, chairman of the Press Gallery

"Ian will be sorely missed in Parliament – he was a great guy- and his sudden death comes as a big shock to everyone in the lobby. I always enjoyed chatting with him and he was incredibly friendly to everyone. He had a great nose for news and kept well abreast of everything happening in Westminster."

John Hipwood, political editor of the Express and Star and former Gallery chairman

"Ian was not only a consummate professional with the ability to write sharp and incisive intros, he was also a generous friend to many in the Press Gallery. At any gathering, his anecdotes and sense of fun made him great company, and not for nothing was he known as one of ‘The Three Muscadets’."

Matt Chorley, chairman of the Newspaper Conference

"Ian was a well-known and much respected member of the lobby, and his presence around the corridors of Parliament, with his archive of anecdotes on MPs past and present, will be sorely missed."

Ian Wylie, former MEN London editor

"Ian was a kind and considerate man who was hugely respected at Westminster. We worked alongside each other for the best part of a quarter of a century and I was also lucky enough to count him as a friend. In all that time we never once had a cross word. The number of shocked colleagues paying tribute to him is a mark of what a lovely man he was."