Tributes for top Fleet Street journalist who never forgot his Lancashire roots

Top Fleet Street journalist Chris Buckland, who has died after battling cancer, with his relatives (from left to right) great niece Katie Pennell and nieces Pauline Pennell and Linda Ellis.

Top Fleet Street journalist Chris Buckland, who has died after battling cancer, with his relatives (from left to right) great niece Katie Pennell and nieces Pauline Pennell and Linda Ellis.

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One of Fleet Street’s most highly-respected journalists, who was born in Burnley and never forgot his Lancashire roots, has died after a long battle against cancer at the age of 73.

Chris Buckland, who grew up in Orpen Avenue and attended Burnley Grammar School, began his career as a Daily Mail reporter in Manchester in 1964 before becoming this paper’s Belfast correspondent from 1965 to 1966.

Known for his easy charm, Chris went on to become a political editor, columnist and foreign correspondent for several national newspapers including The Sun, The News of the World, The People, Today and the Daily Mirror.

His 48-year career took him all over the world and he interviewed many rich and famous people. He toured with the notorious band the Sex Pistols as part of his job and was one of the last people to interview lead singer Sid Vicious before his death in 1979.

His passion for journalism began as a paperboy in 1953 when he stopped to read every front page’s coverage of the conquest of Mount Everest by Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing.

Famed for his keen eye for a story, he was known for exposing the often pompous nature of the political class but he still made lifelong friends in all political parties.

Tributes have flowed in for Chris, who spent several years living in New York, and James McManus, managing editor of the Times Literary Supplement described him as “great political journalist who had a real gift for friendship with a magical quality about him who was also very funny.”

A loyal supporter of the Clarets, Chris was very close to his nieces, nephews and extended family and every year attended a party in Burnley with them.

His niece Pauline Pennell, said: “Chris had reached the top of his profession but he was a kind, caring man who always had time for his family and regularly kept in touch.

“He loved coming home, he never once missed a Christmas with us and he made it for the last one even though he was so ill.

"It was tradition for us to hold the party on the weekend before Christmas because he always volunteered to work over the festive period so that his colleagues who had children could have the time off. "

A funeral service will be held in London in two weeks and in June a memorial celebration will take place at St Bride's Church in Fleet Street which is widely acknowledged as the "spiritual home of the media."