Belfast Telegraph

Obituary: Stanley Aicken - Specialist court reporter whose nickname was Mr Justice Aicken

Retired journalist Stanley Aicken, who has died at 77 after a long illness, was a specialist court reporter over many years for the Belfast Telegraph for which he covered important trials during the Troubles.

Stanley, who is survived by his wife Betty, son David, daughter Karen and six grandchildren, was a talented shorthand writer.

His Pitman system was of such copperplate accuracy that Florence Elliott , who ran a secretarial college in Royal Avenue, once invited him to a class to show her pupils how outlines should be written.

His shorthand was so perfect that colleagues in the Tele's editorial department could read his notes as easily as Stanley himself.

In an era of great shorthand writers like the late Eddie Sloan, who also worked for the Tele, Jimmy Boyd, who was on the Hansard staff of the old Northern Ireland Parliament, and Uel Young, also of Hansard and now in New Zealand, Stanley stood out.

In the High Court his nickname with judges, barristers and solicitors was Mr Justice Aicken.

"When, on occasion, doubt arose about what had been said in evidence, it wasn't unknown for Stanley to be asked by a lawyer to read back his notes," recalled former Belfast Telegraph editor Martin Lindsay. Stanley, a former editor of the Newtownards Spectator, joined the Telegraph as a general reporter and served briefly in the Ballyclare office before graduating to the courts from head office in Royal Avenue. He was also, for a short time, on the editorial staff of the News Letter.

Aicken had his heyday before mobile phones made communication with news desks easier, and often, when fighting a deadline, had to rely on public telephones to get his story through.

He learned his trade from veteran court reporter Joe Porter who, in the 1950s, wrote his stories in longhand and dispatched them to the Tele by messenger on a bicycle.

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