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Editor whose crime reporting won Krays’ praise dies aged 68

Vince PriceA pioneering ex-editor whose crime reporting was once praised by the Kray twins and who later built up an empire of free newspapers has died aged 68.

Tributes have been paid to Vince Price, left, former editor of the award-winning West London Informer group, which he built up from a handful of ‘shoppers’ with no news content into the largest editorial-led free newspaper series in Europe.

At its peak, the Informer had a staff of more than 30 journalists, 13 editions and a combined distribution of 850,000 copies a week.

The biggest title, the Staines Informer, regularly carried 120 pages during the 1980s.

Vince’s right-hand man, Gray Clark, who went on to become chief photographer, recalled: “At the start, there was just me, Vince, a reporter and a sub-editor working from an office above a shop in Kingston. And Vince shook things up big time.

“He had been brought in by the Informer’s new owners, the Essex Yellow Advertiser series, to revamp the titles into real quality newspapers, and he achieved this extraordinary turnaround.  He was the most remarkable editor I have ever worked with and a truly remarkable man.”

Born in Enfield, North London, Vince started out in newspapers in 1966 as a photographer on the weekly Walthamstow and Leyton Guardian, and photography was to remain a passion throughout his life.

Driving back from a job one day he saw police throwing a cordon around a house and discovered he had chanced upon a murder scene and, being the only journalist present, he landed not only a bylined picture exclusive but provided the words as well – landing him his break into news reporting.

After a spell on general news, he joined the Walthamstow Guardian’s crime desk where he once received a phone call purportedly from an associate of the Krays passing on the gangster twins’ compliments for always “telling it like it is”.

Vince later remarked to a colleague: “I’m not sure how I feel about this – what if I ever write something they don’t like!”

He later moved to the Harlow Gazette to work as a sub-editor before moving on to the Informer.

National newspaper journalist Jacqui Thake first worked with Vince as a cub reporter at the Gazette before eventually becoming his deputy at the Informer group.

She said: “I was pretty clueless in those days, but Vince took me under his wing and showed endless patience and kindness. He constantly despaired of my ability, but gritted his teeth and somehow shaped me into a useful member of staff.

“Then in 1983, he took me on as editor of the Ruislip Informer, and later promoted me to deputy group editor.  If it hadn’t been for all Vince taught me, I know I would never have got into national newspapers.”

Vince left the Informer in 1987 to help launch a free newspaper series in North London before moving to Colchester to edit a chain of national magazines for an independent publishing house.

He later moved back to the capital and was a production editor at Haymarket magazines in Teddington and then at satirical magazine Punch until made redundant in the final years before it folded.

In 1993, he went to edit bus industry magazines at what is now Ruxley Communications, in Surrey. His final five years were spent in retirement with partner Anne in the Cambridgeshire Fens, where he wrote articles about his passions of steam railways, canals and country life.

Vince died on 16 May after a battle with cancer. As he requested, his ashes will be scattered along the tracks of the Bluebell steam railway in Sussex.

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  • June 21, 2016 at 9:56 am

    Sad news. In common with Jacqui Thake, I was a junior reporter in Harlow when Vince was the sub. He taught me a lot – shame I didn’t remember it all. But it wasn’t through lack of effort on his part. My thoughts are with his partner and family.

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