In his farewell column, Lee, pictured left, finally revealed Fred’s true identity afte five years in which it was kept a closely-guarded secret.
Lee was named Feature Writer of the Year for the third year running at May’s Regional Press Awards, while his alter ego Fred – pictured below – won the Columnist of the Year title last year.
Lee began writing the column five years ago for the Mercury’s Saturday More magazine.
In his final piece, he wrote: “So that’s that, then. My last column. After five years of this – a weekly column-writing marathon I didn’t think I had in me – it’s over. This is the last one.
“There’s a new editorial plan at the Mercury. I don’t fit in it, unfortunately. I can’t really say any more than that. Find me at the nearest bar, though, and I’ll bore you stupid with it. You’d better get ’em in, though. It’s looking like I won’t have a job.”
He continued by waving “cheerio” to various politicians who have featured in the column including Leicester East Labour MP Keith Vaz and “austerity-loving” Tories.
Lee, who has worked at the Mercury for 20 years, added: “Of all the reasons to dislike our politicians – it’s a long list – this smokescreen austerity is the worst. It’s deceit on a grand scale.
“Farewell to the others – the pompous rugby fans, Nottingham, (virtually all of it), the reliably prickly UKIP members, the dwindling band of BNP followers, the Leicester Labour councillor (the one who seemed to be a regular at those BNP gatherings) who asked for a rise in her allowances recently. Good luck with that.”
In the column, he also thanked his family and those who had wished him well since the planned cuts were announced by the Mercury’s new owner Trinity Mirror.
In particular, he singled out a school teacher who read his terminally-ill father, named Graham, the column on the Saturday night before he died.
Lee concluded: “I never had an idea of who I was writing this for. If something amused me, I wrote about it, hoping it might amuse you, too. It really was as scientific as that.
“But maybe, all along, I was writing it for Graham. That’s what I like to think now. So this is where it ends. Cheerio. Thanks for sticking with it. I hope it’s not been too bad.”