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Regional journalist who broke story of Princess’s divorce dies at 87

A regional journalist who went on to break the story of Princess Margaret’s divorce from Lord Snowden has died aged 87.

Jack Warden, the former political correspondent of The Herald, Glasgow, was also part of the three-man team who scooped the world with the story about Michael Fagan, the man who broke into the Queen’s bedroom in 1982.

In The Herald’s obituary Jack, who was awarded the OBE for services to the industry, has been described as “one of the leading Westminster journalists of his generation”.

Jack also served as chairman of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, and was photographed with both Neil Kinnock and Margaret Thatcher at its centenary lunch in 1984.

Jack, pictured centre, flanked by Neil Kinnock and Margaret Thatcher

Jack, pictured centre, flanked by Neil Kinnock and Margaret Thatcher

Born John Hopkins Warden in Glasgow, he was evacuated during the Second World War to the home of a minister who was interested in newspapers and printing.

This inspired Jack to take up journalism, and he left school to study shorthand in Edinburgh aged 15.

Jack got a job as a copy boy on The Herald, before leaving to become a reporter on the Ayrshire Post.

In the early 1950s he joined the editorial staff at The Scotsman, where he met his future wife Harriet, who was the editor’s secretary there.

At the end of the decade Jack returned to The Herald, where he served as chief reporter in the capital before becoming St Andrews House Correspondent in 1960, covering the politics of the Scottish Office.

He took up the political correspondent role in 1964, a role he held until he took up employment with the Daily Express in 1975.

As well as his exclusives on Princess Margaret and Michael Fagan, he had also been set to break the news about Harold Wilson’s decision to resign as Prime Minister in 1976 – a day before the shock announcement was made.

However, the Express’s owner Max Aitken insisted that the story be spiked as he had dined with Wilson’s advisor Lord Goodman that evening and was concerned people would wrongly assumed he had leaked the announcement.

Though he was known throughout his life as Jack, his byline was always ‘John Warden’. This was at the insistence of his mother who considered ‘Jack’ too vulgar a name to appear in a newspaper.

His wife Harriet died in 1997 and in 2004 he married an old family friend called Marion, who herself passed away in April this year.

Jack died in hospital in Edinburgh and is survived by daughter Anne, son John and nine grandchildren.