THE funeral for prominent Midlands journalist Martin Stote, who has has died after a long battle with cancer, takes place today at St Andrew’s Church, Ombersley, near Worcester.

Until his retirement, Mr Stote was the Midlands staff reporter for the Daily Express, covering many major stories such as the Soham murders and press briefings by the McCann family.

Aged 65 he lived with his wife, Sue Smith, also a journalist, near Ombersley. Their son John works in the City. Despite his illness, Mr Stote continued writing and in recent years was a frequent contributor to The Oldie magazine.

Born in Portsmouth, he went to Pembroke College, Cambridge and began his career in 1970 as a junior reporter with The News in Portsmouth. He worked for several news agencies and local newspapers around the country before joining the Birmingham Evening Mail in the late Seventies as a senior reporter.

Mr Stote joined the Daily Star in 1982, two years after it had been launched as a potential rival to The Sun. He worked as its Midlands reporter for 16 years, covering among many other stories the arrest and Old Bailey sentencing of the GCHQ spy Geoffrey Prime, the abduction of Birmingham estate agent Stephanie Slater and the trial of her kidnapper Michael Sams, the arrest and trial of Lincolnshire nurse Beverley Allitt, who murdered four young children in her care, the Fred West murders and the trial of Rose West at Winchester Crown Court, and the Hungerford, and Dunblane shootings.

With many others, he was made redundant in December 1998 and rejoined the Birmingham Post and Mail group as an assistant news editor. A year later, in December 1999, he became the Midlands staff reporter for the Daily Express.

Mr Stote was first diagnosed with throat cancer in about 2004. Despite undergoing radio and chemotherapy and two major operations, he continued to work until his retirement in 2009.

His funeral service is will be at 2.30 pm today followed by a private burial. Family flowers only, but donations in lieu to the Primrose Hospice, St Godwalds Road, Bromsgrove.