An Old-Fashioned Reporter

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DEVOTED: Brian Cashinella with his wife Pat, with whom he had four children 

From the Daily Telegraph, 26th December 2014

Brian Cashinella, who has died aged 75, was an old-fashioned general reporter who produced shrewd, swift and vivid news stories on widely different subjects for three national papers.

On joining The Daily Telegraph in Manchester during the mid-1960s, he was sent to Northern Ireland where the Troubles were already brewing, and reported the horrific Moors murder trial. 

During the 1966 general election he wrote that Labour leaders in Yorkshire “wore grins as broad as the Pennine valleys” while Tories confessed they were at “rock bottom”.

Transferred to London, he aided a police contribution to medical science by having blood taken from his ear, and his face and hands smothered with aftershave. This important research incontrovertibly showed that his bloodstream was untainted by alcohol – though his ear hurt. From then on Cashinella covered the dithering over whether to locate London’s third airport at Foulness in Essex, about which he wrote the book Promised to Land. He also satisfied the managing editor’s obsession with the failings of his train home to Burnham on Crouch in Essex.

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On being lured to The Times, he was kept busy on the police beat, which led to another book, Anatomy of Crime in Britain Today, and witnessed the Bloody Sunday shootings in Northern Ireland. He did not think the killings were deliberate, though he later told the Saville inquiry that he had heard a senior officer shout “Go Paras and get ’em”.

Finally Cashinella joined the Daily Express, where his first story involved the train robber Ronnie Biggs, who was living in Brazil. For 16 years he was its head of investigations, and later assistant news editor. Once he led a journalists’ stoppage on the Sunday paper.

The son of a van driver, Brian Cashinella was born in Manchester on May 24 1939, and spent his early years playing cricket in bomb sites. He went to St Gregory’s School, Ardwick, where he showed academic promise but left at 15. He joined the Bury Times, where his first story was the ordination of a Roman Catholic priest who had been a “Bevin Boy” in the pits.

On being called up for National Service, Cashinella was posted to the Intelligence Corps in Malaya, where he played plenty of cricket and spent three weeks in the jungle with the Gurkhas. Two years later he completed his provincial experience on the Manchester Evening News and married Pat Taylor, a nurse, with whom he had four children.

On leaving the Express after 16 years, he worked in public relations and tried to sell a film script about Two-Gun Cohen, a Jewish lad from London’s East End who became a general in Sun Yat Sen’s army in China and retired to live with his sister in Manchester. Many producers were interested, but they feared the costs would be prohibitive. 

“Cash” was a keen cricket fan proud to have kept wicket in the Central Lancashire League with and against Clive Lloyd and Sir Garfield Sobers. 

He also remained devoted to a “session” in the pub long after a sniff of alcohol became virtually unknown in news rooms. On one occasion he was in the office filling out a passport application which required him to give his “occupation”. “Permanently pissed,” he wrote. 

The Telegraph offered him “a chaotic workaholic experience”, he recalled; The Times was a gentleman’s club, where copy was never changed without permission; and the Express was a fine working newspaper. 

Fleet Street in general was a great place: “I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.”

Brian Cashinella, born May 24 1939, died November 5 2014

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