Fond tributes paid to Gazette legend Jim

James 'Jim' Stansfield
James 'Jim' Stansfield
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A FORMER Gazette crime writer, who during his journalistic career covered some of the most high profile stories of the time, has died.

James ‘Jim’ Stansfied passed away in his sleep on Sunday at the Alexander Court care home in Thornton, aged 83.

Mr Stansfield began his 45-year career on The Bacup Times, before he moved to The Fleetwood Gazette.

The 1970s saw him working in the Manchester office of the Daily Mail, where he became legendary for his scoops, which included the story of the birth of Louise Brown, the world’s first test tube baby.

But it was on the crime trail he made his name, covering the Moors Murders and dubbing killer Donald Neilson the Black Panther.

One of his most chilling experiences was while covering the troubles in Northern Ireland when he was blindfolded by the IRA and taken on a car journey to interview one of their activists.

After leaving the Daily Mail aged 58, Mr Stansfield joined The Gazette for his second spell at the paper.

Tom Ainge, who was executive editor of The Gazette at the time, paid tribute to his former colleague.

He said: “Jim was an iconic figure who was well respected among his journalistic colleagues, police contacts and his friends in the legal system.

“He was a very loyal and able journalist who knew how to produce an accurate well-written story and who covered some of the major crimes in the North West.”

David Graham, a former colleague who still works as a freelance journalist in Blackpool, added: “I enjoyed 20 years working alongside him, and against him.

“He was a good teacher and proud to pass on his skills which he learnt before the time of instant information on Google or Wikipedia when you had to knock on a door and speak to people.

“He always maintained an interest in his chosen profession, and was still ringing in tip-offs even when he took seriously ill in the last 12 months.”

Mr Stansfield met his wife June, who died four years ago, during his time working in Fleetwood, when she was a CID desk clerk. He leaves two daughters Kath and Jane and granddaughters Florence and Constantine.

His funeral will be held on Monday October 1 at 1pm at Poulton New Cemetery Chapel.