Monty Meth obituary


My friend Monty Meth, who has died aged 95, was both a reporter on the Daily Worker newspaper and, later, the industrial editor of the Daily Mail.

Monty was born above a barber’s shop in Bethnal Green, east London, the youngest of three sons of Millie Epstein, a domestic servant, and Max Meth, a Czech Jewish immigrant who found intermittent work as a bread roundsman and tailor.

Educated at the local Mansford St Central school, Monty learned photography at the Cambridge and Bethnal Green boys’ club, which he credited with rescuing him from teenage pilfering, and at 14 went to work as a messenger for the Fleet Street picture agency Photopress, then on to the Topical Press agency. He returned after second world war service in the Navy to become a prize-winning photographer and photojournalist.

He had joined the Young Communist League at 14 in reaction to Fascist marches in the East End. In 1954 went to Leeds as an organiser and freelance reporter for the Communist Party of Great Britain’s newspaper, the Daily Worker. In 1956 he married Betty Stewart, from Glasgow.

Monty’s freelance work led to a job in London on the Daily Worker, but financially the Meths found life tough, as Monty was required to hand over a large chunk of his wages to the party.

Three years into the job, after finding his copy rewritten because it did not accord with party policy, he accepted an invitation to join the Daily Mail, which retained vestiges of liberalism from its takeover of the News Chronicle.

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With Harold Wilson’s government soon locked in conflict with the trade unions, industrial news was endlessly on the front page. In 1970 Monty was national news journalist of the year for his reporting and became industrial editor. However, after a major scoop was spiked, he accepted an invitation in 1972 to become head of communications for the pharmaceutical company Beecham. He stayed for 17 years before moving to work with his old Daily Mail friend Keith McDowall’s new PR agency.

Outside work Monty was endlessly energetic, marching with Jack Jones in his national campaigns for pensioners and campaigning on local issues affecting older people in Enfield, north London. He expanded the Enfield Over-50s Forum from 70 to 6,000 members. He featured a range of campaigns, from cheap GP phonelines to bus routes which would pass local hospitals, in his regular newspaper columns. This work and fundraising for his old Bethnal Green boys’ club was recognised when he was appointed MBE in 2007.

He is survived by Betty, their children, Ian and Gilly, four grandchildren, Caroline, Natalie, Max and Jack, and two great-grandchildren, Ava and Louie.



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