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Goodbye to a hack’s hack

Roland Gribben, Roly to everyone, was a prince. He died on Friday at the age of 86 after a life well lived that included 52 years at the Daily Telegraph.

It is just about possible that other business journalists wrote better or got more scoops. It is not possible that any were better at this caper than him or more decent with it.

At press conferences, remember them, Roly would usually ask the first question.

Less generous journalists keep their best thoughts behind; they ask the CEO or the PR in private for the answer to the clever bits.

That it simply never occurred to him to do this says an awful lot. His vast knowledge was available to anyone with the sense to tap into it.

As a young-ish reporter with a point to prove on the Telegraph City desk, I could sometimes get frustrated or downright angry.

Roly often had a solution, or if not soothing words, like: don’t let it bother you dear boy.

Gribben didn’t begin as a business journalist. Indeed, he became one after covering the Myra Hindley Moors Murders case and trial. He found this so traumatising he decided to change tack.

Always polite, he had a knack for asking CEOs the very question they didn’t want to answer, seemingly without alienating anyone along the way.

Sir Max Hastings says Roly was, “boundlessly painstaking, drily funny, sceptical, immensely informed about British business, sincerely outraged by wrongdoing of any kind”.

To say he was prolific understates the case.

Neil Collins, the City editor for nearly 20 years, once entered him for a journalism award by cutting out the ten Gribben stories in that day’s business section and sending in what remained.

The entry read: “This is what the Daily Telegraph business section would look like without Roly Gribben.”

His work ethic and decency shouldn’t make anyone think he was soft.

Not long after she stopped running RJH Public Relations, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, was presenting the awards at an industry do at the Savoy.

Everyone was seated at their tables and the MC announced her as she walked to her table. The room rose to its feet, except Roly. His hosts looked at him.

He deadpans: “I’m not standing for a PR woman”.

One for frustrated bank customers here, if that isn’t all of us, from Rouge Media and Downdetector.

Which are the least reliable online banks? Santander customers had most trouble in 2021 accessing their accounts, says the report.

Lloyds Bank is also not great. TSB are the third worst.

You can see the full release here.

See Press Release

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