Richard Garner: former Independent education editor renowned for integrity and dedication
Richard with his wife Barbara - © private
6 February 2020
Richard Garner, who has died of cancer at the age of 69, was probably rare among education correspondents of his generation in not having gone to university. He had left school after A-levels and, like many quick-witted young men and women who were good with words and curious about the world, chosen the life of a journalist.
The lack of a degree was not too much of a handicap because Richard went on to become the longest serving education correspondent ever and one of its most highly respected, starting out at the Birmingham Evening Mail and ending up as education editor of The Independent, a job he held for 15 years. Along the way he worked for the Times Educational Supplement (now Tes), where in my role as news editor I recruited him as a reporter, and the Daily Mirror, where he worked for 12 years as education correspondent.
His training at Harlow Technical College, where he took a National Council for the Training of Journalists course, meant that, unlike most education correspondents, he had direct experience of the further education sector, an interest that was to stay with him throughout his working life. During his time at the Mirror he persuaded the paper to run a page on vocational education, something that continued for four or five years.
At Harlow he learnt the basics of reporting: how to sniff out a good story, insert some human interest and write crisp, clear copy. His great passion outside work was cricket and he was a proud member of the Barmy Army, following England around the world each year, spending his entire annual leave this way.
By the end of his career he had become the elder statesman of the group of education correspondents who wrote for national newspapers, with a reputation for accuracy, integrity and fairmindedness, someone whom rookies and those in trouble could always turn to for help. My abiding memory of him during the nine years we worked together at The Independent was of him head down, bashing out stories day after day, forgetting whether he had eaten lunch and going home only reluctantly after he had answered every last query from the sub-editors.
Estelle Morris (now Baroness Morris), Labour education secretary in 2001-02, remembers when he was one of the faces she encountered frequently “perhaps not with pleasure but with great warmth and the knowledge that he knew what he was talking about and was guided by honesty and commitment”. Tellingly perhaps, she adds: “I always saw him as a fellow educationist. I knew he cared about what he wrote and the impact it would have.”
From his early reporting days his expertise was in writing about the teachers’ unions, what they thought and what action they were taking. He had great contacts and understood their point of view. This, combined with his left-of-centre political stance, might have suggested he would get along better with Labour ministers than Conservatives, but this was not the case because he treated everyone with the same civility.
Not remotely intellectual, he was nevertheless canny and intelligent. And he was the consummate schmoozer, brilliant at getting on with people, making a joke if he could and not giving offence, while extracting as much information as possible. He was genuinely modest and unassuming and would never have won a prize for being Britain’s best-dressed man.
The only person with whom he had a famously troubled relationship was Dominic Cummings, now Boris Johnson’s special adviser but at that time special adviser to Michael Gove when he was education secretary. Cummings disliked his stories in The Independent and complained to him constantly about them, but Richard took no notice.
Colleagues remember his great sense of fun. For a quarter of a century he and other education correspondents spent Easter covering the annual conference of the National Union of Teachers, as it was then known. Judith Judd, who was education editor of The Independent before Richard, recalls that during the first year she didn’t have to attend the NUT conference she was getting into bed thankfully at 11pm on Easter Sunday when the telephone went. “It was Richard, surrounded by our colleagues, ringing from the conference and determined that I shouldn’t miss out on that year’s singsong.”
He worked as hard as he played. Far from putting his feet up after The Independent ceased print production in 2016, Richard wrote a memoir, The Thirty Years War: My Life Reporting on Education, in which he asked for grammar schools to be buried once and for all and for technical schooling to be put on a par with academic education. His wish for 2020 was for the government to allow education reforms to bed down before further change.
After leaving The Independent, he reinvented himself as a crime writer, penning three thrillers in quick succession, Best Served Cold, Jill the Ripper, and Three’s A Crowd. By the time he died, a fourth book was on the stocks. He treated this work as he did his journalism – with discipline and hard graft, working three to six hours a day and never missing a deadline.
He was married three times, finally to Barbara Hopkin, a lawyer, with whom he found great happiness and whom he married earlier this month. They were planning a trip to the Bahamas to see his brother and to mark his 70th birthday, which would have fallen on 12 February. They were also planning to visit Australia to watch cricket.
This love of cricket had been born at Highgate School in London where he was in the same class as the former education secretary Charles Clarke. Clarke recalls: “What I most remember was his cricket bowling style, where he delivered very fast balls with a kind of windmill style with his arms rotating dramatically, which few could forget.”
Richard Garner, journalist, born 12 February 1950, died 28 January 2020
This obituary first appeared in the Independent
Richard on leaving the Independent: From league tables to using the cane: Looking back on 36 years as an education reporter
The funeral is on Wednesday 12 February at 16.15 pm at Harwood Park crematorium, Watton Road, Stevenage SG2 8XT The wake is booked for 18.00-24.00 at The Tythe Barn, Tewinbury Farm, Hertford Road Welwyn, AL6. If you want to stay overnight at the venue there is a reduced rate if you telephone and mention Richard’s name. If you are attending, can you please follow the link and complete the form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfmOJW5g2LBo-v-CJP5B7k5n015MukqILwzVGRJtAJ9hSPQnQ/viewform?usp=sf_link The family is asking for donations rather than flowers to go to Isabel Hospice. There will be a collection bowl at the funeral or you can visit the website of the funeral directors www.austins.co.uk where you will be asked to enter Richard’s name.
Tributes to Richard
Ian Nash In all the 41 years I have known him, I can’t recall a single unjust, unfair comment by him; civility, honesty and decency in his personal life and in his trade as a journalist were paramount qualities in Richard. In fact, he’s the sort of professional who was in danger of giving journalism a good name! I owe so much to Richard, personally, professionally and politically – and I know many of you feel the same. It is no exaggeration to say he helped considerably in shaping my journalism career over the decades. I have known him since 1979, when we met on the picket lines of the first-ever national strike of provincial journalists; he was my news editor on the TES and I wrote for him when he was education editor for the Independent. If there is one quality that has marked him out personally and professionally throughout in my view, it is his fair-mindedness – an essential quality so often and increasingly lacking in our trade.
Francis Beckett Richard was one of the nicest people I knew in journalism, thoughtful and instinctively kind – I benefitted from this when he was on the TES. He could also be, in a quiet way, very funny. When he was on the Mirror, we were once together at the reception desk of the Department for Education when a delivery driver charged in, shouting expletives because something wasn’t ready for him, and Richard leaned to me and whispered: “That’s the education correspondent of the Sun.” He did it with such a perfectly straight face that for a moment I believed him. He was also, in a quiet way, a journalist of great integrity. I’ve just looked back at his valedictory piece when he retired from the Independent It’s the work of a man who has stayed writing about education for most of his career because he thinks it matters; because the world will be a better place if we all care a bit more, and know a bit more, about what happens in the world of education. He was realistic enough to know that journalism can’t do a lot of good in the world, but idealistic enough to be determined that the little good it could do, he would ensure that his journalism did do.
Baroness Morris of Yardley (Estelle Morris) I remember my days when Richard was one of the regular faces I saw at press launches, conferences and interviews – perhaps not with pleasure but with great warmth and the knowledge that he knew what he was talking about and was guided by honesty and commitment. I always saw him as a fellow educationist. I knew he cared about what he wrote and the impact it would have. My contact with him since those days, has been his work and support for the EMC and bumping into him at numerous other gatherings. Richard was a consummate professional. Perhaps more than that, he was a good human being and quite clearly a very dear friend.
Freddie Whittaker Very sad news indeed, and my thoughts are with Barbara. I didn’t know Richard for very long, but in the few years that we were both covering education, he was always incredibly supportive of those of us who, like me, were new to the beat. He was also always terrific company at the union conferences, where his absence has already been felt in the years since he left the Independent. He will be missed.
George Low I am glad I managed to get in touch with him just before he died. He was a good friend and a stalwart of educational journalism over so many years. We will remember him.
Diane Hofkins Richard was one of the first people I met when I came to the UK in 1978-9. He was one of my late husband John’s oldest friends, as they had been at journalism college together in Harlow. He was also, briefly, my boss when he was news editor of the TES. In that role, none of you will be surprised to know, he was organised, clear, decisive, calm (except the time he allegedly threw a typewriter through the window) and thoughtful - keeping in mind what you needed to know as well as what he needed from you. I loved working for Richard because he laughed at my jokes, rather than looking at me as though I had said something earnest but peculiar.
Hilary Wilce What sad news. He was far too young and still in the thick of life with his new marriage and prolific writing career. But it’s good that the end was peaceful and that he was so well supported by family and friends. He was, as so many have said, the best of decent and honest news reporting.
Nigel de Gruchy I was so glad to see that Richard would have witnessed the great performance of the England cricket team against S. Africa. I had mentioned their success in a letter I sent to him immediately after you informed me of his terminal illness. I always find it incredibly difficult to write to friends and colleagues knowing they are at the end of their days. Knowing Richard's love of the game it provided the opportunity of dwelling on something cheerful. Richard was a great friend to so many people. He even wrote a commendation for my book on the History of the NASUWT!
Mike Durham I'd just like to add my sorrow, sense of loss and feelings of, well, injustice at this terrible news. I'd known Richard for almost 40 years and after a long gap had been seeing a bit more of him recently and got to know Barbara. I'd been looking forward to his teaching me cricket at Lords this summer. I'm only glad the end was, apparently, peaceful.
Di Spencer and Tim So very sad. He was such a lovely man, a dear friend. Lord's will not be the same without him. We do feel for Barbara. We were all so happy when he found her.
Charles Clarke I well remember two periods when our lives overlapped quite a lot. We were in the same class at secondary school and he was the outstanding student in English. Of course, his tremendous writing capacity, with his insight and understanding, was the key to his success as a journalist. But what I most remember was his cricket bowling style, where he delivered very fast balls with a kind of windmill style with his arms rotating dramatically which few could forget. I next encountered him when he was covering education whilst I was in government. The relationship between the politician and the journalist is sometimes described as being that between a dog and a lamppost - though in what direction is never quite clear. With Richard it was never like that. He was supremely professional, analytical and courteous, and very keen to ensure that he could explain clearly and truthfully what was really going on - and there again his excellent writing style came into its own. His integrity and quality led him to be greatly respected by his colleagues in the ‘education lobby’ and by those whose activities he was covering. In general, he was the model of what a professional journalist should be, an inspiration in my view desperately needed today. As these messages all show he is held in very high regard both as a person, with his style and warmth, and in respect to the way in which he approached the tasks which he had made his vocation. He will be enormously missed.
Sunita Gordon Richard was indeed a very fine man and a generous friend. He will be missed sorely.
Wendy Jones I never had the privilege of working with him, only alongside him in friendly education correspondent competition – and he was of course the most decent competitor you could have.
David Lloyd My fondest memories of Richard are from suppers at national teacher and headteacher conferences - the conviviality, the warmth of Richard, those mellow tones and the bonus of a great group of education writers and union representatives/ leaders around the table.
Meg Davis-Berry I was proud to call Richard my friend for 50 years. We started our journalism training together at Harlow 50 years ago last September. You have all spoken of his integrity, honesty, professionalism and, of course, his lifelong love of cricket. He gave my son his precious signed cricket bat; a mark of his generosity. I remember that bounce in his walk, the wonderful smile and that spontaneous hand clap whenever he was really pleased. Yes, it did usually coincide with a four, a six, a catch or a clean bowl or even a well-served pint. He deserved to enjoy a lot more life. Although I haven’t seen him much of late, I will miss him hugely.
John Dunford It is more than 25 years since I first met Richard and we have talked education (and cricket) on so many occasions since then. It was always a pleasure to talk with him about the latest story and to know that any comments I made would be reported accurately and in the wider context of his immense knowledge of education. A favourite for me was his 1998 Mirror piece setting out a league table of grammar schools, on which my accurately reported comments were not viewed kindly by at least one headteacher (headmaster?) of a poorly performing grammar school, who resigned from SHA forthwith! He was the doyen of education journalists – a consummate professional from whom one could observe less experienced reporters taking their line. His sense of humour, lack of any semblance of arrogance and ability to encapsulate a story in its essential elements (especially in his Mirror days!) were always to the fore, notably at all those interminable union annual conferences. How many, I wonder, did he attend, without seemingly ever losing his passion for his subject. It seems no time since September, when Richard deftly chaired the launch of the report of the Commission on Exam Malpractice and we had the opportunity to work together again. Yet again, I benefitted from his wise counsel. It is so sad that he has died so young.
Frances Rafferty Richard was a warm, lovely and kind man. He was great company, be it at cricket, at a NUT conference or over a few pints at the Old Cross Tavern. I’ll never forget his rendition of Wild Thing, standing on a table at the dreadful Vagabond drinking club on Fetter Lane, near The Mirror, on his 40th birthday. He was also a brilliant journalist. He saw editors and news editors come and go, but he never lost his enthusiasm for a good education story. He could be fiery, but his ire was usually aimed at injustice or unfairness. He then reinvented himself as a crime writer and produced very entertaining yarns. Again, you had to admire him for it. I’ll miss him and my heart goes out to Barbara and his family.
Dorothy Lepkowska My own friendship with Richard started from afar at a teachers' conference around 1993-4. He must have been at the Mirror at the time, and I was the education correspondent on the Birmingham Post. I felt totally in awe of the "famous" names from the nationals with whom I was sharing desk space in the press room, and Richard was among them. I felt immediately drawn to his warmth and humour, and his understanding and knowledge of the issues. After I left to freelance in 2006, we kept in touch and met a couple of times for lunch in London. In 2007, my husband and I had lunch with Richard and his late wife, Ann, in St Lucia where we were attending a wedding and he was on an England cricket cruise of the West Indies. We had a lovely afternoon and Richard was in excellent form. We met since at education awards ceremonies and there was no more deserving recipient of the Ted Wragg award than Richard Garner! To me, it feels like the end of an era. Richard was one of the finest journalists I have ever met, if not the finest and best. I aspired to his professional honesty, decency and integrity and I don't think it's any exaggeration to say that he made me a better journalist.
Peter Kingston Moany FE conferences were always made jollier and more bearable by Richard's presence. His interest in and commitment to education were genuine and deep. His lines on stories were astute and always worth cribbing.
Jane Pickard Richard was one of the kindest and most principled people I knew and an excellent journalist. We met in Birmingham in our twenties and were part of a close-knit group of friends on the Post and Mail who met for regular Sunday lunches, holidayed together and went on strike together in the seven-week provincial journalists’ dispute of 1978-79 (yes, Richard was one of the wintery discontented). At the start of that dispute, leaders of the Birmingham Post and Mail NUJ chapel persuaded most of its 80 or so members to vote to defy the national strike decision. But Richard, along with me, my subsequent partner, Bernie Corbett, and about six others, declared the chapel vote unconstitutional, came out and formed a picket line. Very soon, the eight had grown to 40. Half the chapel continued to cross picket lines – but were quite happy to accept the pay settlement we eventually won. Apart from his radicalism, Richard was notable for his love of cricket and brilliant imitations of Mick Jagger – my favourite was at a Greek restaurant where Richard joined in the dancing looking remarkably like Mick Jagger crossed with Mick Jagger crossed with Zorba the Greek.
Rebecca Smithers Richard Garner was not only the UK's longest-serving education correspondent and one of the best writers in the sector. He was also the kindest and most generous, who went out of his way to help others - even his competitors. We became good friends after I joined the beat - as The Guardian's education correspondent - in September 1997. In a cut-throat, competitive journalistic world where many correspondents (who came and went with some regularity) only had their eye on their own potential scoops, Richard was a reassuringly calm presence and mentor who – particularly over the lengthy Easter conference season when we were all far from home - was also exceptionally good company. On a long day in Sheffield (Richard had driven us up there in his car) when we were shadowing the then education secretary (and local MP) David Blunkett, I was nodding off after numerous visits to schools and a predictable tour of an FE college building site in the pouring rain. Finally, during a quick cuppa with Blunkett at the end of the day, we got two brilliant tales including what made a splash for us both in Monday's papers. Richard winked at me knowingly as if to say "I told you so" before getting in the back of the car with Blunkett for the cheesy 'photo with minister' that The Mirror always required. Job done...
Sheila Dainton Years back I had the daunting task of co-judging the Primary Teacher of the Year awards with Richard. Yes, of course, he was courteous, respectful and 100 per cent professional. One would expect no less. But it was his total sincerity and the empathy with which he engaged with the young children who were giving 'evidence' about their teacher that has stayed with me. Imagine this. A primary school in Margate. Poverty barely touched it. A magical teacher - and an equally magical bunch of young children. Towards the end of their 'evidence' session, a waif of a young lad clambered onto Richard's lap. "Thank you for coming to see us sir," he said. "You listen, you think, and you understand." Wise words indeed. At the time I sensed that Richard was mildly embarrassed. All the same, he gave the lad a hug. This was not a Big Story. But Richard just got it. Never written about, but one of those magical, unreported moments when humanity meets humility. Never to be forgotten.
Michael Shaw This just echoes what every other education journalist has said, but I'll hugely miss Richard Garner. Whenever the education pack huddled together to make sense of a story, we deferred to Richard for his wisdom and insight.
Alison Kershaw Such sad news about Richard Garner. As a 20-something joining the education beat he was incredibly welcoming & knowledgeable. He taught me an awful lot - about education & journalism - & stood up for me on more than one occasion. A true gent, it was a pleasure to be in his company.
Sean Coughlan Really awful to hear about Richard Garner's death - and lots of friends sharing memories. His journalism was treated with respect by ministers and teachers alike - as he treated them alike. He showed you could be a good journalist and good person too.
Mary Bousted Richard was an incisive and insightful journalist, whose reports were treated with respect by ministers and teachers’ leaders alike. He also showed that you could be both a good journalist and good person too.
Nansi Ellis I am very saddened to hear of the passing of Richard Garner, father of the house of education journalists, intrepid author of crime novels and a lovely, principled, gentle man. May he rest in peace. One of my first outings with ATL union was to judge primary teacher of the year, with Richard Garner as fellow judge. His expertise in drawing out the best, and the most interesting, things about each person was second only to the way he made everyone feel important. Sad news.
John Booth It’s been a privilege to have had Richard Garner as friend, fellow journalist and political ally for over 30 years. A support to many young reporters, a union activist, a practitioner of ethical journalism when many were owner errand boys and a witty and wise cricket companion.
Sir Michael Barber Very sad. I always found Richard Garner to be a well-informed, rigorous and humane journalist determined to understand and explain. Also, a delightful human being and person of integrity. Great company.
James Meikle A brilliant friend and a great journalist. My first news editor on moving to London and a man who knew more about education than any hack I ever me." Our last time at cricket this summer, we had such a good time talking about and sometimes being rude about all our mutual friends as well as slagging some of them off. A great journalist and brilliant friend.
Greg Hurst Richard was a great friend and a distinguished journalist, and I am so sorry that he has died. He had a natural authority both in his writing and in his presence but was a modest man, good natured and great company. I got to know him when I switched to become education editor at The Times in 2009; I remember sitting on a two-carriage train to Harrogate to attend a conference of head mistresses of private girls’ schools and recognised him from his picture byline: he was then education editor at The Independent. The conference was pretty thin gruel for reporting purposes, but we had a thoroughly convivial few days in Harrogate. That set the tone for the next eight years while we were colleagues on the education beat. He was a natural leader of the small group of education correspondents, carrying in his head the institutional memory that is key to any organisation or group. He and I were once the only correspondents to attend the North of England education conference in Sheffield, where we were snowed in. One day the main speaker was Liz Truss, then a junior minister, who made a long, dense speech about adding more maths content to every conceivable curriculum subject. “Goodness me,” a local authority education officer said to her companion, shaking her head and rolling her eyes as we exited the auditorium. But in Richard’s company I had a thoroughly enjoyable couple of days.
Peta Steel I first met him in 1970 when we worked on local papers in North London. he on the Islington Journal, me on the Hornsey. The following year we were moved onto The Camden Journal under Eric Gordon. It was the two of us and a shared sports reporter. Richard was the housing and planning correspondent; I was local government and film reviewer. Richard did theatre and music. He was a member of the Sealed Knot and was working on a book on the assassination of Spencer Percival. He was great to work with: generous, loyal, a delight to have as a colleague and a friend. We remained friends as our jobs went off in directions, occasionally crossing (as it does in journalism) as he was education editor on the Indy and I was an obituary writer. We might not see each other for a while but every time met we continued the conversation as thought it was yesterday. The last time we bumped into each other at a jazz concert. I feel a great loss.
Anne Nicholls I first met Richard in 1988 when he was news editor at the TES. I was a college lecturer at the time and wrote to him asking if I could spend a week's work experience on the paper as I wanted to change direction into journalism. The article I sent to him as an example of my writing was one I had written for a cricket magazine (not knowing he was a great cricket fan) which was a gentle piss take on the game from the point of view of a cricket widow. He said he was "impressed" which was a huge boost to my confidence as a novice writer. My week at the TES helped to launch my new career as a journalist, with the support of Ian Nash. When I moved into PR Richard was one of my very best contacts - always courteous when I pitched stories, never abrupt and someone whose judgement I respected. I remember clearly that soft, gentle voice on the end of the phone "Hello, Richard Garner". He was also great company. I am so pleased that his crime novels have been successful. 'Jill the Ripper' was a great read and I'm sorry I missed the launch of his latest book last October. Richard - I will miss you.
Andrew Morris We were privileged to secure Richard as a trustee of the Education Media Centre a couple of years ago. I got to know him in this capacity. All that has been said here about him was immediately apparent. He contributed thoughtfully, helpfully and sensitively. He participated fully, except on the occasion our meeting clashed with the Ashes in Australia. A clear sense of priorities.
Alan Whittaker Richard has been a part of my life for almost as long as I can remember, certainly over sixty years, and we went through so much of our early lives and experiences together, school, church, youth club. For a few years we didn't see much of each other while we both got going with our careers, but then we established contact again round about 1978, when his first marriage came to an end and he came to visit me in Sweden, where I was working at the time. Since then we never lost touch, and it is so terribly sad that his life has been cut short with this terrible illness.
Judith Judd Richard was all the things mentioned in these emails – self-effacing, honourable, thoroughly decent. He also had a great sense of fun. For a quarter of a century he and I with the other education correspondents spent Easter covering the NUT annual conference. The first year that I didn’t have to go (but he did). I was getting thankfully into bed at 11pm on Easter Sunday when the phone rang. It was Richard, surrounded by our colleagues, ringing from the conference and determined that I shouldn’t miss out on that year’s singsong. A wonderful colleague in every way.
David Shaw After covering the Thorpe trial together for six weeks, culminating in acquittal, Richard and I door-stepped into the early hours, then to Lord's to watch the West Indies humiliate England in the World Cup. I knew little about the game, but Richard gave an expert running commentary. Tired from the late night before we went to leave the ground early as the Windies racked up the runs to certain victory. We were heckled back into our seats by overjoyed West Indian supporters chorusing: 'Stay there till you're well and truly whopped!'.
Liz Lightfoot Richard cared deeply about education especially that of children from disadvantaged backgrounds and those with special educational needs. He deplored the running down of vocational education and modern foreign languages and the neglect of FE. But his first love was journalism, writing and reporting and getting out of the office. He was not interested in climbing the management ladder. He had an uncanny news sense and was usually the first to spot the angle in a boring speech or long report. He could back it up, too, with accurate quotes because of his super-fast shorthand and was always willing to share with the rest of us. He had strong political views, but he did not let them influence his reporting and he did not curry favour with politicians who he treated with distant respect, mostly wishing they would stop interfering and let heads and teachers get on with the job. Towards the end of his career as an education editor he faced, as many of us did, extreme pressure to produce headline grabbing exclusives as newspapers competed with each other and the internet for survival. He fought hard to maintain his reputation and his integrity because accuracy and the truth mattered to him more than page leads.
Sally Selby I was completely shocked to hear Richard had died and still can't really grasp it. Though he and I had fallen out of contact, I have great memories of long-ago Sunday lunches and a boozy canal barge holiday with him and other Birmingham buddies. There are loads of photos from that holiday somewhere. When he finally landed a job in London, he and I moved his belongings down to his parents' house but had to abandon the hired van in a snowdrift on the way back to Brum. He was one of the straightest people I know - principled and hard-working and at the same time kind, funny and great to be with.
Fran Abrams Bumping into Richard, at a press conference, teachers’ conference or social gathering, always brought a moment of pleasure. Cheerful, self-effacing and always great company, he was genuinely a man about whom no-one ever had anything bad to say – a rare quality in a journalist, and especially in one as good as Richard.
Sarah Cassidy When I first heard that Richard was going to be Education Editor of The Independent and therefore my new boss, colleagues at the TES (where I was working my notice before joining the Indy as education correspondent in March 2001) told me to watch out for his terrible temper. He had once thrown a typewriter at someone in a rage, they said. I knew from the looks on their faces that they were joking of course but it is only perhaps now 19 years later that I fully get the extent of that joke. In all that time I never saw Richard lose his temper with anybody. In all those years I don’t think I saw or heard him get even a bit irritated – even with the newsdesk or when trying to put together our own A level results tables based on faxes from individual schools when all the Indy faxes kept breaking down. Our desks were directly opposite each other in the office and we spent lots of time fetching complicated tea orders and chatting about nothing much over the years. He had a very big-hearted laugh and would suddenly break into song when he was feeling particularly happy or tap out a rhythm with his fingers on the desk. When I started working with Richard, I was a twenty-something reporter keen to learn everything I could about journalism from him. Now when I look back, I realise that I learned so much more than that.
Eric Gordon Even 50 years on, the one thing he remembers his new reporter Richard Garner for in his obsession with work. Whenever I arrived at the office Richard would be furiously typing away on his next story.
Amol Rajan Richard was the best Education Editor in Fleet St the whole time he held the job at @Independent. Fair, tough, trusted by all sides and a huge believer in the power of education. More importantly he was just the most lovely, kind, funny, loyal man, and a hero to all who knew him.