An inspiration to Fleet Street’s big names


Barrie Devney, one of the big names from the Daily Express when it was a great newspaper, was an inspiration to many of the young journalists of the day.

Barrie, who has died aged 81, was delighted to see how Terry Pattinson, Peter Hitchens, pictured below, and Paul Wilenius all rose to become big names.

In retirement, Barrie settled in to his mansion flat in London’s Marylebone, having chosen it to be within walking distance of Lord's cricket ground, where he had a season ticket. Latterly, neuropathy in his legs seriously restricted his ability to walk.

Barrie was divorced from Ruth, the mother of his children (the split was caused by demands of Fleet Street when strikes were our daily fodder). 

After a long period solo he married Marie Patterson of the TUC, and the pair of them plus their cat had a happy time in Marylebone. 

Sharp-brained Marie developed Alzheimer's and eventually it all became too much for Barrie, and she went into a good private care home. He was taking a cab to visit her regularly in her care home in North London, but for the past two or three years she did not know who he was. 

He had sent out his Christmas cards and had been to visit Marie when he became ill and spent a week in intensive care, where he died.


PETER HITCHENS, pictured right, wrote in his column in the Mail On Sunday, 11th January 2014:

A fond farewell to an old friend and colleague of mine, the great industrial reporter Barrie Devney, who died recently. 

In the days when the whole country was convulsed by strikes, he was liked and trusted by both sides in many bitter disputes. 

Barrie’s father was a bus conductor and his mother ran a sweetshop, but he ended up on first-name terms with Cabinet Ministers. I think that’s at least partly because he grew up in the age of grammar schools, that great open door which our politicians shut and sealed.

© 2005-2018 Alastair McIntyre