AddThis SmartLayers

Journalist who exposed council vote-rigging scandal dies aged 85

HAM OBIT journalist Jillian McDonough receptionA journalist who exposed two major council corruption scandals during the 1980s and 90s has died aged 85.

Jillian McDonough, left, was senior journalist on the Paddington & Kilburn Times – now known as the Brent and Kilburn Times – from the 1970s until 1991.

During that time she uncovered the ‘homes for votes’ scandal at Westminster council when coucil leader Dame Shirley Porter was accused of gerrymandering.

And she also broke the news of the council selling its municipal cemeteries at East Finchley and Mill Hill for just £1 each to save on maintenance costs — which the local government ombudsman found was maladministration.

Jillian’s daughter, actress Catherine McDonough, told the Times: “Mum was one of the first journalists to report on the infamous 1p cemeteries sale. It inevitably made national headlines.

“The stories she covered were numerous, given the years she worked in the local press. She was always talking about her stories when I was growing up, interviewing leading public figures but giving voice to those who may not have been heard.”

Jillian, who died last month, was born in Nottingham and joined the Walthamshow Post aged 21 before a spell on Fleet Street.

She gave up work to raise her family but returned to journalism with the Paddington & Kilburn Times in the late 1970s.

Despite her corruption exposes, she earned the backing of the Westminster council press office when she was faced with redundancy in 1991.

In a citation to the National Union of Journalists, which was supporting Jillian, it said: “She is a conscientious local reporter, often ahead of the game and always fair in her comments, giving us the opportunity to respond before going to press.

“If the politicians don’t like what she has written it is because she is an honest, hardworking, objective reporter doing a good job in pursuing local democracy and a free press, always playing a straight bat. We would be sorry to see her go.”