Obituary: Philip Mackie, former deputy editor, 79

Tributes have been paid following the death of one of the greats of Scottish journalism, former Evening News deputy editor Philip Mackie, who rose to the esteemed rank of royal press secretary.

Thursday, 22nd March 2012, 12:00 pm

Philip, who died last week aged 79, worked in journalism when newspapers were vibrant, profits buoyant, circulation wars roared across Scotland’s Central Belt and no holds were barred to secure the story.

Born in 1932, the son of a policeman, he attended Zetland Primary School in Grangemouth.

After National Service, he entered journalism as a reporter with the weekly Falkirk Mail, but soon the excitement of the big time came calling and he joined the Daily Record in Glasgow, where he became its crime reporter.

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This was a role that suited Philip’s talents admirably. Not only did it call for fast thinking, guile and ingenuity while reporting at speed but also integrity – to his paper and his contacts.

In the 1960s, his reputation for producing major scoops took him to the Daily Express, then one of the most powerful papers in the country.

Major crimes were Philip’s beat, and he personally knew many of Scotland’s most notorious criminals, including the serial killer Peter Manuel.

On one occasion, Philip spirited an early suspect in the Manuel murders off to a safehouse to ensure his paper’s exclusivity. While being driven home, the reporter and suspect were involved in a crash. Asked if there was anyone the police could call, Philip replied: “Tell my newsdesk.” Eventually he was wooed by The Scotsman Publications to become its publicity manager and he masterminded the Evening News’ Charity Walk, which became one of the biggest fundraisers of its kind in the country.

Among the famous names he brought to the Capital for the walk were Princess Margaret, Frankie Vaughan, Michael Crawford, Angela Rippon and Sir Jimmy Savile, who led the event for many years. His reputation as a hard news man returned him to journalism and he soon became deputy editor of the Evening News, eventually rising to associate editor.

However, after more than 30 years in journalism, he decided to retire to the peace of the Highlands around Beauly. It was then he received a momentous call from Buckingham Palace and his career took an entirely new direction – as assistant press secretary to the Queen, and then in a similar role to Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

Before his retirement he was awarded the honour of Lieutenant of the Victorian Order by the Queen for his royal services.

In 1957, Philip married the love of his life, Margaret Grant, who he now leaves behind along with daughters Helena and Mairi.

He spent the final eight years of his life living quietly in Linlithgow.