News & Comment

Friend of Forest acclaimed for her straight-talking columns

Thu 29th December, 2011

Colleagues of Sue Carroll have been paying tribute to the Daily Mirror columnist who died of pancreatic cancer on Christmas Day aged 58.

Editor Richard Wallace described her as "the heart and soul of the Daily Mirror".

"Sue had faced her long and painful illness with enviable fortitude," he said. "Until the final few days she was still doing what she loved the most: reading the papers and giving her inimitable thoughts on the world around us - with, of course, the odd no-nonsense rant thrown in.

"Sue was part of the heart and soul of the Daily Mirror - and had a direct line to our readers. But she was also very close to some of us personally. So first and foremost we grieve a great friend."

The Independent reported 'She became a star columnist in 1998, comparatively late in her career, after holding a series of executive positions on newspapers and magazines within Rupert Murdoch's News International group. When the rival Mirror lured her away she set out her stall in her debut article with a forthright declaration of principle – in effect a manifesto for all such columns: "I'm about real life... I don't like being told what to do by bullies. I will be looking at life in a rough, no-nonsense way and, most importantly, I intend to talk from the heart."

'Her favourite targets,' the paper added, 'included political correctness, yobbish behaviour and the "health police". A militant advocate for the right to smoke in public, she appeared on platforms at meetings organised by Forest, the tobacco industry's lobby group [sic], in their failed attempt to head off the Labour government's ban on smoking in pubs and restaurants.'

Paying tribute to Carroll on his blog Taking Liberties, Forest director Simon Clark wrote:

"Of all national newspaper columnists, it was Sue who was most likely to rail against the smoking ban and other laws designed to bully and denormalise ordinary men and women who choose to smoke. 

"In person I was struck by Sue's modesty and the fact that she seemed quite happy not being centre stage. In contrast her writing was fearlessly outspoken and she held nothing back."

Writing about her inoperable illness in the Mirror in March 2011, Carroll said:

"No one has blamed my lifestyle, so I don't regret a single cigarette or cocktail," she wrote. "I'd love my old life back but I was as determined then, as I am now, not to whinge about life being unfair." 

"The absence of self-pity," said Clark, "is one of many reasons to mourn Sue Carroll's death. Others include her outspoken support for personal choice and her empathy for ordinary people, especially those who choose to smoke and drink.

"We have lost a very good friend who will be greatly missed."

Sources: BBC News (26 December 2011), Taking Liberties (27 December 2011), Independent (29 December 2011)

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