After National Service as a wireless operator in the RAF, Brian joined the staff of the Daily Mirror with which he was to remain connected as a staff man and freelance for much of his career. He served variously as the paper's crime reporter, Old Bailey correspondent and as editor of the "Live Letters" column. For three years he was news editor of The Sun after it became a tabloid in 1969.
Always on the lookout for a good story, he unexpectedly found himself to be part of one in March 1974 when he was riding in a taxi down The Mall. In a car following was Princess Anne and her then husband, Mark Phillips. Close to Admiralty Arch a car slewed in front of the Royal car and a man, leaping out, thrust a gun through the window; he planned to kidnap the Princess and demand a £3 million ransom. A police inspector in the car with the royal couple tried to reason with the assailant, and was shot. Brian, hearing the crash and then the shots, jumped out of his cab and ran to the crashed car, telling the gunman: "You can't do that. These are my friends. Don't be silly. Just give me the gun."
In reply the man told him to get out of the way, and then shot him in the chest. Staggering to the side of the road, Brian said to a woman there, "I think I've been shot". "You'd better sit down" she replied. The kidnapper was overcome, having shot not only Brian and the inspector, but also another policeman and the royal chauffeur - all four were taken to St. George's Hospital and all recovered. Brian McConnell was presented with the Queen's Gallantry Medal for his role in helping to foil the kidnap.
Brian took an academic as well as a professional interest in crime and was the author of Assassination (1969), which covered the topic from the Assyrians to the Kennedys, The Rise and Fall of the Brothers Kray (1969) based on the Daily Mirror reports on their trials, The Neilson File (1983) about the serial killer Donald Neilson.
It cannot be said that Brian McConnell ever actually retired. Even after leaving Fleet Street he still was willing to take over the Editorship of this Newsletter from 1994-2000 and with Margaret looking after advertising and distribution (which she continues to do), the Newsletter became an almost cottage industry at their home in Frank Dixon Way. As Editor, Brian was combative when he thought local authority administration poor. Nowhere was that more so than in the then management of Dulwich Park.
More time allowed Brian to pursue more good stories and he was enthusiastically working on an unknown and early Dulwich VC holder of the Maori Wars. His lectures in the United States resulted in a penchant for sporting a Stetson which challenged the supremacy of his other favoured headgear, a straw hat, which he invariably doffed to male and female alike. Brian was a jovial, interesting and modest man who will be much missed by the Dulwich Society. We extend our deepest sympathy to Margaret in her sad loss.