Roland Gribben, who died on Friday aged 86, was one of the most accomplished business journalists of his generation, a relentlessly hard-working and decent man who was almost universally respected, and occasionally feared, among the industrialists he wrote about for his consummate professionalism and dedication to fair, incisive and accurate reporting.
Baron Simon of Highbury, a former chief executive and chairman of BP as well as a government minister, said: “He had a unique ability to electrify the dullest of company press conferences with a five-barrelled opening question that perfectly anticipated everything anyone else might want to ask. He was one of the most astute reporters of his business generation, who often seemed to know as much about the companies he covered as the people who ran them.”
Equally effusive in his praise is Sir Max Hastings, editor of The Daily Telegraph from 1986 to 1996. “Roly was a supreme professional of extraordinary integrity. Those words may sound banal, until we think how relatively few journalists of any kind, and especially business journalists, merit the same accolade,” he said.
“He was boundlessly painstaking, drily funny, sceptical, immensely informed about British business, sincerely outraged by wrongdoing of any kind. If it was possible to put Roly’s qualities in a bottle and sell them to aspiring media editors, they would represent everything we should look for in the very best of British journalism.”
Charles Moore, who succeeded Sir Max, said Gribben combined professional determination with gentlemanly manners.
“He had the great gifts of lucid explanation and a sense of where the true story lay. Although he took immense pride in his work, he never let ego get in the way. As befitted a man who covered industry, Roly was immensely industrious. His reports could always be trusted, which is really the highest praise.”
In a career spanning more than 60 years, the great bulk of it at The Daily Telegraph, Gribben chronicled many of the great industrial and business stories of the post-war period, from the decline of Britain’s car industry to the rise of the North Sea oil and gas sector.