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Weekly editor who went on to work for rival dies aged 61

Andy LeverA former weekly newspaper editor who recently been working on investigations for a rival publication has died aged 61.

Tributes have been paid to Andy Lever, left, who edited the Thurrock Gazette for a number of years and had worked on the Thurrock Independent for the past 18 months.

Andy had been battling ill-health for several years, but had led the Independent’s investigations into various council issues and planned NHS changes.

After leaving the Gazette in 2004, he also spent time as a senior press officer at Thurrock Council before returning to journalism.   He died at his home in Grays, Essex, shortly before Christmas.

Neil Speight, his successor as editor of the Gazette, now runs the Independent.

He said: “I first met Andy on the day I stepped into his footsteps as editor of the Thurrock Gazette. We differed on many issues but from that very first day I respected him and his passing today brings a deep sense of loss.

“As I said, we did not agree on a number of things but it is a mark of the man that that did not stop us becoming great friends. And colleagues in the media world.

“What I can be sure of on this sad day is that Andy Lever will never be forgotten. Our deepest condolences are passed to Brenda, David and Tessa and Andy’s other family and wide circle of friends.”

Current Gazette editor Gary Pearson, who also worked with Andy for many years, said: “Andy was a real character, that’s for sure.

“I remember being a fresh faced trainee at the Gazette when he was editor. He wore cowboy boots, smoked cigars [in the office] and didn’t mind shaking things up with those in authority.

“Not the sort of guy you forget in a hurry. Rest in peace Andy, you’ll be missed.”