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Daily editor who took stand against BNP dies suddenly aged 71

Jim WilliamsA former regional daily editor who took a stand against far-right activities on his patch has has died suddenly aged 71.

Tributes have been paid to Jim Williams, left, who spent 42 years with the Oldham Evening Chronicle, including a decade in the editor’s chair.

In his time as editor, Jim established the Pride in Oldham Awards in the wake of the Oldham Riots in 2001, and also took a stand against the far-right British National Party’s activities in the town.

The BNP described Jim on its website as “lying beast Williams”, something he himself regarded as a “badge of honour”.

Jim died from pneumonia on Friday at the Royal Oldham Hospital, with his wife Karen and daughter Jane at his bedside.

Philip Hirst, former chairman of Chronicle publishers Hirst, Kidd and Rennie, which went into administration in 2017, prompting the newspaper’s closure as a print title, said: “In Jim we had a fine writer and reporter, one of the best. No one who is a journalist can receive a higher accolade than that.”

Jim began his career on the Ashton Reporter in 1965, moving to the Chronicle three years later to become its Oldham Athletic football reporter.

He later served as news editor and deputy editor before taking on the top job in 2000.

Known for his versatility, Jim had freelanced as the anchorman to the Saturday afternoon sports show on Manchester’s Piccadilly Radio in the early 1980s, and also wrote sketches of council debates for the Chronicle.

Veteran Oldham councillor John Battye said: “From Latics [Oldham Athletic] reporter to setting the scene at Oldham Council meetings, his reports were always sprinkled with great wit and insight.

“Councillors couldn’t wait to see the next night’s Chronicle to see if Jim had given them a mention – even if it was a dressing down.

“Jim was a true professional who left an unparalleled legacy of reports and editorial comment on local life and events in and around Oldham.”

In retirement, Jim kept up with current affairs and was also an avid reader of historical fiction books. He also enjoyed walking, and was out only days before he contracted pneumonia.

Jim outlived his son Adam, who died of a brain tumour at the age of 34 in 2004.  He also leaves a son-in-law Phil and granddaughter, 17-year-old Eleanor.


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  • February 5, 2019 at 10:46 am

    Really sorry to hear this. He was proper newspaper man and a real gentleman. Sincere condolences to his family.

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  • February 7, 2019 at 10:59 am

    So sorry to hear of his passing. My intro to him was being sent by Oldham Press Agency to Watersheddings to cover my first rugby league match – an A team game.
    Having climbed the rickety wooden stairs in the stand I spotted with relief this huge fur coat sitting alone in the press box. I introduced myself saying:” Thank god you are here – I know nothing about rugby league.”
    “Well this will be interesting. Neither do I. I’m the Chron’s Latics’ reporter!”
    So Jim and I wrote our reports based on what the fans told us was happening and writing “Trialist” or “A N Other” if we could’t figure out who the scorer was.
    A great lad and a cracking journalist. My condolences to his family

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