Sir Bernard Ingham: Margaret Thatcher's longest-serving press secretary dies aged 90

Margaret Thatcher's longest-serving press secretary Sir Bernard Ingham has died after a short illness, his family has said.

The former Fleet Street journalist for the Guardian was 90 and died with his family around him on Friday lunchtime, a statement said.

He served as Baroness Thatcher's press secretary for all but the first few months of her premiership.

During Labour's years in power in the 1970s, he worked for left-wing MPs Barbara Castle and Tony Benn while a press officer at the departments for employment and energy.

Mr Ingham's family described him as a "journalist to his bones" and he had a column published in the Yorkshire Post just last month.

His son, John Ingham, said: "To the wider world he is known as Margaret Thatcher's chief press secretary, a formidable operator in the political and Whitehall jungles.

"But to me, he was my dad - and a great dad at that. He was a fellow football fan and an adoring grandfather and great-grandfather. My family will miss him greatly."

Mr Ingham thanked his father's nursing home, Tupwood Gate in Caterham, Surrey, and his previous in-home carers for their "wonderful care and support".

After leaving Downing Street, Sir Bernard wrote his memoirs, Kill The Messenger, and worked as a political pundit, an after-dinner speaker, a cruise lecturer and a newspaper columnist.

Read more:
Tales from 100 years of the PM's Chequers retreat
Why Thatcher tried to ban raves

Born on 21 June 1932 and educated at Hebden Bridge Grammar School, he started out aged 16 on his local paper in West Yorkshire, The Hebden Bridge Times.

After moving from the Guardian to become a government press officer he put himself forward as a bitter enemy of "spin", criticising those who practised the "black art".

Sir Bernard was knighted in Baroness Thatcher's resignation honours.

He was married for 60 years to Nancy Ingham, a former policewoman, who died in 2017.

He leaves a son, two grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

Former Conservative home secretary Priti Patel described Sir Bernard as a "giant of British political communications and hugely loyal man", and thanked him for his service to Lady Thatcher's administration.

While Alastair Campbell - once Labour PM Sir Tony Blair's spin doctor and a former Mirror journalist - said he "always treated me fairly and with consideration" during his time reporting on the Thatcher era, despite "working for a paper wholly opposed to her and her policies".