Obituaries: Brian Hitchen
Fleet Street veteran whose scoops included a post-mortem picture of Elvis and who later became publisher of Irish Country Life
Brian Hitchen, who died last week aged 77, edited the Daily Star at the height of the Fleet Street tabloid wars after a career in which he secured a post-mortem picture of Elvis and claimed to have beaten the FBI to a crucial lead in the hunt for Martin Luther King's killer.
"Hitch", as he was universally known, was a veteran of many big stories. He liked to recall his role in the tracking down of the Great Train robber, Ronnie Biggs, during his days on the Express. Having planned the stitch-up that saw the paper "find" Biggs and then hand him over to Scotland Yard, he even gave the reporter Colin Mackenzie a glass to take to Rio. After a toast with the criminal, the glass was to be returned, complete with fingerprints, to prove Biggs's identity.
He was steeped in the fiercely competitive world of Fleet Street reporting, a trade which he perfected as news editor at the Daily Express in what were probably the last of its great days in the mid-Seventies. The archetypal newshound, he was a hard man – hard drinking, and hard on his reporters too – though few had a bad word to say about him.