Founding Insight team member Ron Hall - a 'dogged, insistent sceptic' - dies aged 79 - Press Gazette

Founding Insight team member Ron Hall - a 'dogged, insistent sceptic' - dies aged 79

Founding member of the Sunday Times Insight team Ron Hall, who worked on the paper's investigation into the Profumo affair, died on Monday aged 79.

Hall had been suffering with Parkinson’s disease for a decade.

In an obituary in today’s Times former Sunday Times editor Harold Evans said of Hall: “He was a dogged, insistent sceptic of windbag do-gooders…a force for truth and the credibility of the enterprise.”

After attending grammar school in Sheffield, Hall studied mathematics and statistics at Cambridge. He began his journalism career at the Glasgow Herald, later moving to the Daily Mirror as a writer of satirical comment on the Old Codgers page.

On leaving the Mirror, Hall founded a weekly magazine called Topic with Jeremy Wallington and Clive Irving. According to The Times, the same three formed the Insight investigations team at The Sunday Times in 1962.

Hall would spend the next two decades at The Sunday Times, The Times reports, establishing a reputation as an effective researcher who would often work through the night.

The obituary describes Hall as the "intellectual heavyweight" of the team, known for the mantra: "You can't write a story if you don't understand it." 

The Profumo affair, in which secretary of state for war John Profumo was revealed to have been sleeping with the girlfriend of Russian spy Eugene Ivanov, contributed to the downfall of Harold Macmillan and the election of Harold Wilson in the 1964 general election.

It was the first major story uncovered by the Insight Team. The Times reports: "Each week, an atmospheric opening paragraph would lead into a story laced with colour and detail, which would challenge conventional wisdon and provide a context which had been absent from the week's news."

According to the Telegraph, investigating the Profumo affair would lead the Insight team into revealing the racketeering of Peter Rachman, during which investigaion Hall coined the term Rachmanite to describe exploitative landlords.

Departing the Sunday Times in 1982, shortly after Rupert Murdoch’s takeover, Hall worked in various editing roles at the Sunday Express, London Daily News and Scotland on Sunday.

He remarried twice after the death of his first wife Ruth in 1981, but leaves behind no children.