Peter Preston

Peter Preston
Born Peter John Preston
(1938-05-23)23 May 1938
Barrow upon Soar, Leicestershire, England
Died 6 January 2018(2018-01-06) (aged 79)
Cause of death Melanoma
Education Loughborough Grammar School
Alma mater St John's College, Oxford
Occupation Journalist, author, and or
Title Editor, The Guardian
Term 1975 - 1995
Predecessor Alastair Hetherington
Successor Alan Rusbridger
Spouse(s) Jean Burrell
Children 4, including Ben Preston
Relatives Janice Turner (daughter-in-law)

Peter John Preston (23 May 1938 – 6 January 2018) was a British journalist and author. He was or of The Guardian for twenty years, from 1975 to 1995.

Early life[]

Peter Preston was born in Barrow upon Soar, Leicestershire, the son of John Preston, a greengrocery business manager, and his wife, Kathlyn Preston (née Chell).[1] He grew up in the village of Quorn, two miles south of Loughborough.[1]

His father died from polio when he was child, and he subsequently caught the disease; he spent 18 months in and out of hospital, including time in an iron lung. The disease caused permanent damage to his body.[2] He was educated at Loughborough Grammar School and St John's College, Oxford, where he ed the student paper Cherwell.[3]


Preston started his career at the Liverpool Daily Post in 1959, and joined The Guardian (then the Manchester Guardian) in 1963.[4] He rose to become or in 1975 and remained so for over twenty years, retiring in 1995.[1] He reported on Conservative MPs, including the perjurious Jonathan Aitken and the cash-for-questions affair involving Neil Hamilton and Tim Smith.[3] In both instances, a source was Harrod's and Paris Ritz owner Mohammed Al-Fayed. Preston was also or when The Guardian was forced to hand over leaked government documents which were then traced to a Foreign Office copier, leading to Sarah Tisdall, who was subsequently imprisoned under the Official Secrets Act 1911.[3]

He continued as a columnist for the rest of his life. He contributed a weekly column to The Observer, "Peter Preston on press and broadcasting", devoted mainly to news about newspapers, their readers and (generally) diminishing circulations in the newspaper's "business and media" section.[5] He was chairman of the preparatory committee of the European Press Prize.[6] He was a member of the Scott Trust (owner of The Guardian and Observer) from 1979 to 2003, chairman of the International Press Institute from 1995 to 1997,[4] and chairman of the Association of British Press Editors.[7] Preston wrote two novels, Bess and 51st State.[3]

Personal life and honours[]

In 1962, Preston married Jean Burrell, and they had four children.[1] His son, Ben Preston, is a former deputy or of The Times[8] and Radio Times, and is executive or of The Sunday Times.

He received honorary degrees from the City University, London and the universities of Leicester, Loughborough, Essex and Roehampton.[9]

Preston died on 6 January 2018 after suffering from melanoma.[10]



  1. ^ a b c d McKie, David (7 January 2018). "Peter Preston obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 January 2018 – via 
  2. ^ Preston, Peter (22 June 2002). "Peter Preston: good news on a bad day for one polio victim". The Guardian. 
  3. ^ a b c d Ruddick, Graham (7 January 2018). "Peter Preston, former Guardian or, dies aged 79". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 January 2018. 
  4. ^ a b Turvill, William (21 June 2013). "Peter Preston reflects on 50 years of triumph and disaster at The Guardian and Observer". The Press Gazette. Retrieved 7 January 2018. 
  5. ^ "Peter Preston on press and broadcasting - Media". The Guardian. 
  6. ^ "Peter Preston". European Press Prize. Retrieved 7 January 2018. 
  7. ^ "Today's media panel". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 January 2018. 
  8. ^ Stephen Brook "Former deputy or [Ben] Preston leaves Times", The Times, 4 February 2008
  9. ^ "Alumni: Peter Preston". St John's College Oxford. Retrieved 7 January 2018. 
  10. ^ Preston, Ben (7 January 2018). "My dad, Peter Preston, has gone: a long goodbye and a deadline missed for the first time". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 7 January 2018.  (subscription required)

External links[]

Media offices
Preceded by
Alastair Hetherington
Editor of The Guardian
1975 - 1995
Succeeded by
Alan Rusbridger