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Walter Greenwood: Eminent expert in media law dies at 87

Staff Reporter

Walter Greenwood, one of the foremost experts on journalism law and a long-time legal adviser to the Belfast Telegraph, has died at the age of 87.

Mr Greenwood – who for more than 30 years was, with Tom Welsh, co-author of McNae's Essential Law for Journalists – died at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle on Sunday evening.

He had been suffering ill-health for a year. When asked to recite a sentence of more than 30 words while being assessed following a recent stroke, Mr Greenwood told his fellow law tutor Pat Hagan: "I gave them the briefest of introductions to the law of defamation."

Mr Greenwood was a major force in journalism training and in advising on British journalistic law for more than 40 years.

He always understood that what an editor wanted to know was not why a story should not be published, but how it could be.

His period as co-author of McNae's covered 13 editions of the book, which is known as the media law bible for journalists, and has long been the standard set text for nearly every journalism training course in the country as well as an essential reference book for news desks everywhere.

He was still closely connected to McNae's – he wrote the chapter on media law in Northern Ireland for the latest edition, and earlier editions as well.

His duties also included heading the National Council for the Training of Journalists' law board, helping set the standards of legal competence expected of trainee journalists.

His work with the NCTJ spanned almost 40 years, making him one of the longest-serving contributors to the organisation.

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