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Colin Reith Coote Edit Profile

journalist , politician , Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom

Colin Reith Coote, British Journalist. Decorated Companion Distinguished Svc. Order, 1918, Legion of Honor, 1956,Knight Batchelor, 1962. M C. Served with the Gloucester Regiment, 1914-1918, the French 26th Infantry Division France and Italy, 1917-1918.


He was born in Fenstanton, Huntingdonshire. He was the son of Howard Browning Coote of Stukeley Hall, later Lord Lieutenant of Huntingdonshire, and Jean née Reith of Aberdeen.


He was educated at Rugby School and Balliol College, Oxford, graduating in 1914.


For fourteen years he was the editor of the Daily Telegraph. On the outbreak of war he obtained a commission in the Gloucestershire Regiment. He served in France and Italy, and was forced to return to the United Kingdom, having been wounded and gassed.

He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 1918. Coote was chosen as the Liberal candidate for the seat, and due to a war-time pact between the parties, was also nominated by the local Conservative and Unionist Association. Accordingly, he was elected unopposed to the Commons on 14 December 1917.

A general election was held in 1918. Constituencies were completely reorganised by the Representation of the People Act 1918, and the Wisbech seat became part of the new Isle of Ely division. Coote was returned as MP for the Isle, again unopposed.

At the subsequent general election in 1922 his differences with the Conservatives saw them running a candidate against him. Coote, running as a National Liberal, was defeated by Colonel Norman Coates. With hindsight, Coote described his defeat as the "crowning mercy" of his career, as it allowed him to pursue journalism.

On leaving the Commons he was appointed Rome correspondent of The Times. His period in Italy saw him covering the rise of the fascists under Benito Mussolini. Returning to Britain in 1926, he spent three years as a parliamentary reporter before becoming a leader writer.

By the time of the Munich Crisis Coote found himself opposed to the newspaper's support of appeasement, and refused to write leaders supporting the policy. He finally left The Times in 1942 on the resignation of Geoffrey Dawson as editor, and took up a post with the Daily Telegraph. he became deputy editor of the Telegraph in 1945, and succeeded Arthur Watson as editor in 1950. He held the post until 1964, with his Liberal tendencies balancing the otherwise Conservative views of the paper.

He was knighted in 1962. He died at his London home in June 1979, aged 85.



[30th United Kingdom Parliament. 31st United Kingdom Parliament]In November 1917 the sitting Liberal member of parliament for Wisbech, Neil James Archibald Primrose, was killed in action. While a member of parliament, Coote had gained a reputation as a freelance writer.


Married Amalie Marinus, March 29, 1946.

Howard Coote

Jean Reith (Gray) Coote

Amalie Marinus