Obituary: Colin Webb

Colin Webb
Colin Webb
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HE rose to the top of Fleet Street after cutting his teeth as a cub reporter in Portsmouth.

Colin Webb, who has died aged 74, was the much-respected editor of the Press Association from 1986 to 1995 and successfully steered the agency through major technological advances.

Mr Webb also coined what he regarded as the basic ABC of the Press Association: Authority, Balance, Clarity.

Colin Thomas Webb was born on March 26, 1939, in North End.

He won a scholarship to Portsmouth Grammar School and, after leaving at the school at the age of 16, he joined the Evening News, now The News.

He reported on local events in the late 1950s until he left to join the army.

In the early 1960s he spent 18 months as a PA reporter, before joining The Times.

Mr Webb became news editor of The Times before editing the Cambridge Evening News for eight years.

He was then recalled by The Times as the paper’s deputy editor, becoming one of the most influential figures on the paper until the offer from the Press Association came along.

Mr Webb introduced political opinion polls for the first time in PA’s history.

One poll initiated by Mr Webb showed that alcohol had become Britain’s third-greatest killer after heart disease and cancer.

Tim King, a fellow journalist who also went to Portsmouth Grammar, said Mr Webb had a good sense of humour.

He said: ‘When he was about to be called up for National Service, he didn’t want to go. Funnily enough, he had a (deformed) toe and he got a surgeon to remove it, believing that he’d be rejected as unable to march.

‘But you don’t dodge the column with the army so easily. He was drafted into the Pay Corps and, like everything else he tackled, he did well and was commissioned; I believe he ended up as a captain.

‘The toe he had removed became a party piece, as he kept it pickled in a small jar.’

Mr Webb will be remembered for his determination to ensure that the Press Association kept abreast of and ahead of the rest of Fleet Street and provided customers with the finest and fastest news service possible.

In 1992 Mr Webb was given an honorary fellowship at the University of Portsmouth.

In 1999 he and his family moved to Chichester, where he became a reader for the diocese of Chichester.

He died peacefully surrounded by family on May 18. A service of Thanksgiving took place at St Mary’s Church, Funtington, near Chichester, on May 31.

He is survived by his wife Maggie, two sons and a daughter, a grandson and three grand-daughters.

n Colin Webb: Born March 26, 1939, Died: May 18, 2013.