John Junor

Sir John Donald Brown Junor (15 January 1919 – 3 May 1997) was a Scottish journalist and editor-in-chief of the Sunday Express between 1954 and 1986,[1] having previously worked as a columnist there.[2] He then moved to The Mail on Sunday.

Early life

Born in Glasgow, he studied at Glasgow University and had a wartime commission in the Fleet Air Arm.[3] At Glasgow University he became president of the University Liberal Club, and later stood unsuccessfully three times for Parliament in Scotland for the Liberal Party.[4] In the 1945 General Election he contested Kincardine and Western Aberdeenshire. He then fought a by-election in 1947 for Edinburgh East, and finally was beaten at Dundee West in 1951. He was knighted in 1980.


His Sunday Express column (which he continued to write in his years as editor-in-chief) was noted for recurrent catchphrases, two of them being "pass the sick-bag, Alice" and "I don't know, but I think we should be told". Junor frequently mentioned the small town of Auchtermuchty in Fife.[4]

Junor could be brutally forthright in his column. He once wrote: "[W]ith compatriots like these [the IRA Brighton bombers] wouldn't you rather admit to being a pig than be Irish?" Following complaints that the comment was racist, Junor was censured by the Press Council in May 1985.[5]

He was often lampooned in Private Eye where he was known as 'Sir Jonah Junor', and the Daily Express building on Fleet Street as 'the Black Lubyanka'.

Contempt of Parliament

On 24 January 1957, Junor was called to the Bar of the House of Commons to be reprimanded for contempt of Parliament[6] – the last non-politician to be so called.[7] The matter concerned an article about petrol allocation that appeared in the Sunday Express on 16 December 1956. Junor apologised:


Junor married in 1942, and had two children.[4] The journalist Penny Junor is his daughter,[3] and the journalist Sam Leith, his grandson.


  • The Best of JJ (1981)
  • Listening for a midnight tram: memoirs (1990)


  • Penny Junor (2002): Home Truths: Life Around My Father, ISBN 0-00-710213-5
  • Graham Lord (2012): Lord's Ladies and Gentlemen: 100 Legends of the 20th Century


  2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 23 February 2007. Retrieved 17 March 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. Peregrine Worsthorne "Sympathy for the devil", New Statesman, 12 August 2002
  4. Julian Critchley Obituary: Sir John Junor, The Independent, 5 May 1997
  5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 June 2011. Retrieved 18 May 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Press Gazette
Media offices
Preceded by
Deputy Editor of the Evening Standard
Succeeded by
Charles Wintour
Preceded by
Harold Keeble
Editor of the Sunday Express
Succeeded by
Robin Esser
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