Veteran Times journalist and St Albans resident Peter Evans dead, aged 86

Peter Evans, the author of Rebel With A Cause. Photo: Hannah Couzens Photography.

Peter Evans, the author of Rebel With A Cause. Photo: Hannah Couzens Photography. - Credit: Archant

Veteran journalist, author and St Albans resident Peter Evans has died aged 86 after a near five-week fight with illness.

Despite butting heads with MI5, religious fanatics and the Queen, probably the most danger Mr Evans faced in his 30-year career at the Times was while looking into the possible parole of notorious gangster, Charlie Richardson.

One of Richardson’s associates, who were known as the torture gang for nailing their victims to the floor and cutting off their toes, rang the newspaper’s office saying: “I am coming round to deal with you physically.”

The editor Harold Evans wanted to call Scotland Yard, but Peter held him back, reasoning: “If you do, the gang will have to prove themselves. Leave it.”

He survived the ordeal with his extremities intact.

Peter Evans was born in Minchinhampton, Gloucesteshire on March 22, 1932 and after working as an apprentice on Stroud News for £1 a week and National Service as an RAF officer, he embarked on his lengthy career at The Times, where he worked as a news editor, obituarist, leader writer, and founder of the investigative news team.

The news team consisted of six reporters with an airplane standing ready to take them to emergencies wherever they arise.

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In addition to this, Mr Evans also exposed the true number of Windrush migrants who came over in 1947 in a series of articles called - somewhat politically incorrectly - The Dark Million, which he wrote after spending time staying with Pakistani and West Indian families.

While the government had refused to correct the mooted figure of 650,000, a civil servant anonymously revealed it was actually one million.

The Prison Officers Association once presented him with a plaque in appreciation of his campaign to raise jail standards.

Mr Evans sang as a soloist with choral societies and gave recitals in various parts of Britain, and performed with the Cotswold Players, Stroud Religious Drama Festival and Huntingdonshire Operatic Society and also produced RAF variety shows.

Towards the end of his life, he lived in Foxcroft and wrote his memoir, Rebel With A Cause.

Peter Evans died in Stevenage, Hertfordshire on May 25, 2018 after a fight for his life in Lister Hospital.