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Journalist who scooped world on Stone of Scone discovery dies aged 89

Arthur BinnieA journalist who broke the news that the Stone of Scone had been found after its theft from Westminster Abbey has died aged 89.

Arthur Binnie, pictured left, was a young reporter on the Arbroath Herald when he scooped the world with the story after its disappearance from London on Christmas Day 1950.

The stone, historically used in the coronation of Scottish monarchs, was found 100 days later, wrapped in a Scottish Saltire, lying on the site of the High Altar of Arbroath Abbey.

Two prominent local councillors in Arbroath, each with strong Nationalist sympathies, had been briefed by the conspirators to tell the press – in those days the rival papers of the Arbroath Herald and the Arbroath Guide.

Arthur chanced on Frank Thornton, one of the councillors in the street. Immediately Arthur sprinted back to the Herald office, picked up a heavy plate camera, and raced on his bike for the Abbey.

He filed the story and pictures for his newspaper first, then began a marathon phone session tipping off the national press, which earned him enough to marry his fiancée Bette and set up home.

Arbroath-born Arthur learned Pitman’s shorthand at school and served during the second World War.

After the Herald, he spent a decade on the Evening Express, Aberdeen – holding positions including general reporter, special features writer, nightly columnist of Bon-Accord Gossip, and latterly chief sub-editor.

Arthur was later hired as BBC Aberdeen’s first ever news editor, later working for the corporation’s national arm in Birmingham.

He is survived by his wife Bette, daughter Susan and two grandsons. Another daughter, Irene, died before him.


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  • February 10, 2016 at 10:11 am

    Ah, what a good scoop. Would modern management know what the word means?

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  • February 10, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    Great story. Nowadays the nationalists would just tweet a picture and we’d all spend the day asking if we can use it, in exchange for a credit.

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  • February 10, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    Fantastic. For Arthur it really was the Stone of Destiny. RIP

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