His recent background might have been in provincial newspapers, but when Ian Hamilton Fazey, who has died aged 71, became Northern correspondent for the Financial Times in 1980 he brought to the job a flair and authority it had not seen before and probably hasn’t since.
Ian was simply Mr FT. The branded bow-tie and pocket handkerchief duo became a trademark of his style, which encapsulated his intellectual and emotional involvement in Northern issues.
By nature conservative yet open and inquisitive, Ian proved himself equal to every boardroom or senior common-room challenge. He rang the chairman or chief executive on private numbers. Importantly, he fixed a national spotlight on industry undergoing profound change during the Thatcher 1980s – as much in Yorkshire and the North East as in the North West.
During his tenure the FT was moving from its City-bound focus towards a much wider role on the national and international stage. Ian made sure that the North wasn’t forgotten betimes.
Representing the FT at functions, Ian was the full deal. He understood that PR was very much part of his role, and obviously enjoyed himself.
After Ian left the FT and had spent a couple of years in Vienna he became briefly (accidentally, he called it) editor of Insider magazine at a time when the owners were preparing to sell. Ian’s enthusiasms spurred the team to new heights of financial journalism and – as he didn’t fail to point out – the magazine saw new profit-streams flow.
As Insider’s editorial director I was nominally his boss, though actually absent in Cairo. Years earlier he had boosted my freelance career when he asked me to join him in writing special reports for FT Surveys.
Ian was provocative, demanding, so tough on himself that his health suffered, and wholly professional. With Ian, you might both like each other, and enjoy a good working relationship, but stories or projects had to stand on merit.
He brought quality and relevance to the regional environment. The North West misses him.
Bob Waterhouse was a co-founder of Newsco, the publisher of Insider.