Chris Moncrieff: Veteran PA political reporter dies

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PA Media

Chris Moncrieff, a political reporter who covered Westminster for more 50 years for the Press Association (PA) agency, has died aged 88.

The journalist, who continued to file stories after officially retiring in 1994, was described by PA’s editor-in-chief Pete Clifton as a “legend”.

In 2007, the House of Commons press bar was renamed in Mr Moncrieff’s honour.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair once described him as “the only journalist who mattered”.

Mr Moncrieff, who had four children with his late wife, Margaret, joined PA’s parliamentary staff in 1962, before becoming a lobby reporter in 1973.

He was made chief political correspondent in 1980, and was later promoted to political editor.

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Mr Moncrieff (left) at PA’s Fleet St offices in 1987

Mr Clifton said: “Moncrieff was the ultimate news agency journalist – great contacts, always close to the action, working some epic hours and obsessed by getting stories out before everyone else. On the rare occasion he took a holiday, we could expect him to file news stories he’d picked up on the promenade.

“Legend gets overused, but there’s no doubt Moncrieff was a PA legend and a remarkable political reporter. We are profoundly sad today, but cheered by the many stories of Moncrieff we can share.”

Former Conservative Deputy Prime Minister Lord Heseltine described him as being “like a jack-in-the-box”.

He added: “He was the most assiduous professional, the phrase ‘never off the job’ was invented for Chris. He was hugely diligent and enormously ever-present.

“He always gave the impression of being sympathetic to what you were saying – and he must have listened to both great statesmen and absolute scoundrels.”

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PA Media

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Chris Moncrieff, pictured with wife Margaret, was appointed a CBE in the 1989 New Year’s Honours

Former PA parliamentary correspondent Jackie Storer described Mr Moncrieff as a “wonderful friend”.

She said: “I was in awe of Chris when I joined the Press Association in 1998, but he quickly dispensed with any hero worship by regularly getting in the teas.

“His ‘war stories’ were legendary – but so was his kindness. I will never forget how he jumped on a train to Eastbourne to give the most amusing and informative talk to my Dad’s Air Crew Association gathering – and how supportive he was years later, when my father died.”

Philip Webster, former political editor of the Times, said: “He was the most enthusiastic and fastest operator any of us worked with. His business was words.

“Within seconds of grabbing a quote from a backbencher, minister, prime minister he was on the phone breathlessly dictating copy, always well served by his impeccable scrawling shorthand.

“Amiable and funny, no politician would deny Chris his demand for words, as he was their gateway to the nation. A great man and great journalist.”

Members of the press lobby have also paid tribute to Mr Moncrieff: