One of the News of the World’s longest serving journalists died yesterday from cancer at the age of 73.
News of the World editor Colin Myler today described executive editor Robert Warren as “the absolute embodiment of everything that is right and good about our profession”.
Warren had been with the News of the World since 1964. After retiring in December 2000, he rejoined the paper in 2001 as an editorial consultant and ombudsman.
In his 44 years at the paper, he held the jobs of reporter, deputy news editor, news editor, assistant editor (news), associate editor and executive editor.
His stint as news editor, spanning two decades, was one of the longest in the paper’s history.
When he retired in 2000, News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch paid a personal tribute, saying: “You can be justly proud of your contribution in setting a standard the rest of Fleet Street has struggled in vain to match.”
News of the World editor Colin Myler told staff this morning: “It is with deep regret I write to inform you that our treasured colleague Bob Warren passed away last night.
“Bob, who was 73 last month, has been a distinguished staff member and executive of the News of the World for 45 years.
“He simply was one of the most respected journalists of his generation and we will all miss him terribly.
“Our thoughts and prayers today are with Bob’s wife, Madeline, and their children, Charles and Angela.”
In a further statement, he added: “Bob Warren was one of the most complete journalists of his generation. A consumate professional of the highest calibre.
“He was a gentleman and the absolute embodiment of everything that is right and good about our profession. The lights in our lives will shine less brightly without him.”
Warren died just days after completing his two-year-stint as chairman of the Journalists’ Charity. As chairman he presided over the opening its £4m care home for retired journalists at Dorking in 2007.
Director of the charity David Illot told Press Gazette: “He was a gentleman. A number of people looked on him as a father figure and somebody you could look up to.
“He knew the way that he wanted things to go but always acted as a gentleman, there was a kindness about him.”
In 2002, the News of the World held its own version of the British Press Awards called The Real Press Awards in which it gave Warren a lifetime achievement award for his “40 years at the top”.
Sun editor Rebekah Wade, who was then editor of the NoW, said: “There is only one word to describe him – legend. He was a gentleman who always helped young colleagues.”
NoW legal manager and close friend of Warren, Tom Crone, said: “He was incredibly wise and serenely affable.”
Prime Minister Gordon Brown told the News of the World: “Bob was a truly great journalist and an inspiration to so many others over decades at the paper.”
And leader of the opposition David Cameron described him as “a gentleman and a professional in the great tradition of Fleet Street.”
Former NoW editor Piers Morgan described him as “the very heartbeat of the paper” and said: “In a crisis I could always rely on him to settle everyone down and come to a rational decision.
“Bob was the greatest News of the World journalist of them all – one of the best the industry every produced.”
Warren was a keen member of the Press Golfing Society and was due to take up the captaincy of the group this year.
One of his close friends, former Sun journalist Bill Newman, said: “He was a legend. Working for the charity was his great passion but he threw himself into everything he did.”
The funeral will be held on 15 January at Golders Green crematorium in North West London.