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Len Tingle, gentle giant of politics in Yorkshire, has died

Len Tingle  -  © bbc

16 April 2018

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is among those who have paid tributes to BBC Yorkshire political editor Len Tingle, an NUJ member who was highly regarded in the worlds of journalism and politics.

Len, 63, died in a local hospice last week after being diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2017.

Raised in Cudworth near Barnsley, he became a familiar face on Look North and the Sunday Politics as well as local radio.

Helen Thomas, head of BBC Yorkshire, described him as the “gentle giant of politics in Yorkshire”.

Len’s television career began at Central TV in 1981 and he went on to join the BBC in 1989 as a business presenter in London, becoming a familiar voice on Radio 4. He moved to Leeds as business and industry correspondent before becoming political editor in 2001.

Behind the scenes, he always made time to support colleagues and share his passion for journalism with those starting their careers. Len was also a former FoC and a member of the NUJ for 40 years, a milestone recognised when he was named a life member in March.

Adam Christie, NEC member for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “Leeds branch was deeply saddened that Len couldn’t receive his certificate in person, but his BBC colleague and former MoC Nicky Addyman spoke affectionately about his dedication as father of chapel. He had time for everyone. He would smile and be as helpful as he could, never condescending and always keen to encourage.”

Len had tweeted: “I can't express how pleased and proud I am that my trade union, the NUJ, has made me a life member. In the 40 years since I joined, the union’s constant battle to protect the rights of journalists to do their job has never been more important.”

Journalists and parliamentarians from across the political spectrum took to social media or issued statements, adding their praise.

Long-standing NUJ member Jeremy Corbyn said: “Len was passionate about politics, Yorkshire and its people in equal measure. He’s a huge loss to journalism and Yorkshire has lost a loud and proud voice. My thoughts and deepest condolences go out to his family.”

Julian Smith, the Conservative MP for Skipton and Ripon in North Yorkshire, said Len had had a “charming way” of holding politicians to account. “You would get a sense of this passion – and importance he placed in standing up for Yorkshire – and he managed to do that in a really charming way that you trusted him,” he said.

Nigel Adams, Conservative MP for Selby and Ainsty, said he was a “true gent” and an “impartial, fair, respectful and professional political reporter”.

Leeds West Labour MP Rachel Reeves added: “Len Tingle was a great man. He loved journalism, politics and Yorkshire and his humour and passion always shone through. I will miss him greatly.”

Former Leeds North West Lib Dem MP Greg Mulholland said Len was greatly respected, adding: “I enjoyed both sparring with him and working with him on important issues.”

Colleagues were equally fulsome in their praise.

Helen Thomas, head of BBC Yorkshire, said: “As a colleague he was kind, honest and always ready to help others. As a political journalist he was passionate in the pursuit of the real story. For many he made sense of the changing political landscape in Yorkshire and it’s a tribute to him that so many politicians of today and yesterday saw him as journalist they could trust in good times and in bad.”

BBC Radio York news editor and NUJ Leeds branch secretary Richard Edwards said: “Journalism, and trade unionism, has lost one of its best. Any time spent with him was a delight, learning from him was an honour. Our job now is to pass his skills onto the industry’s next generation.”

Look North presenter Harry Gration said Len was a fearless reporter who was “not just the best at his job, but the best to work with too: “He was also an incredible team player and often rang me with tips about how to challenge the big political hitters.”

BBC Yorkshire communities reporter Sabbiyah Pervez said Len “was so supportive of my work and the work of other young reporters. He really was my ‘telly dad’ as he’d fondly say. He was the best critic and champion of talent."

Barnsley poet and Radio 3 presenter Ian McMillan found his own special words to honour Len: “Beautiful Cudworth vowels framing incisive discourse with the self-styled ‘great’ and ‘good’, testing their language and often finding it wanting.”

Tags: , Len Tingle, Look North, obituary, leeds branch, Helen Thomas