THE LONE wolf of Fleet Street, a pioneering journalist with North-East links, has died at the age of 100.

Famed ‘spywatcher’ Chapman Pincher was raised in Darlington and grew up to reveal a string of high-level secrets as defence correspondent for the Daily Express.

Mr Pincher, regularly bugged by the MI5, was dubbed the lone wolf of Fleet Street for a series of exclusive stories that lifted the lid on military secrets.

In 2005, he was named one of Britain’s most influential journalists – though he was also referred to in less flattering terms as a “public urinal”, a nod to his ability to get people to leak stories to him.

It was a description he remained proud of throughout his life, once memorably saying: “That was the greatest compliment I've ever been paid, I mean I'm delighted to be a public urinal at which people leak.

“And they can still come and do it if they want to, I'll sell it."

Mr Pincher even attracted the ire of former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan who once issued a memo that said: “Can nothing be done to suppress or even get rid of Mr Chapman Pincher?".

In response to that, he said: "I attacked both parties when I felt they needed it or annoyed both parties ..... none more so as you can see from Harold Macmillan from his hatred of me, can I be got rid of? I mean, that was lovely, I wonder what was in his mind."

Mr Pincher’s death was announced by his son Michael Chapman Pincher on Facebook yesterday.

His post read: "Our dad, Chapman Pincher (The Lone Wolf of Fleet Street) facing his death with: no regrets, no fear and no expectation, died of old age on 05 August 2014 aged hundred and a quarter.

"'Harry” a journalist, author, fisherman, shot and scourge of politicians of all hues leaves Pat and Mick, a raft of grandchildren, his third wife Billiee and her three children. His last joke was 'Tell them I'm out of scoops'. For him RIP stands for Recycling-in-Progress."

Mr Pincher was born in India in 1914 and educated at Darlington Grammar School. His father was manager at Darlington's Theatre Royal and later landlord of The Comet, in Croft.

Originally a scientist, he joined the Daily Express in 1946 as science and defence correspondent and spent 30 years working as a journalist while also publishing a series of books, many related to espionage.

His 1981 book, Their Trade is Treachery, revealed suspicions that former MI5 Director General Roger Hollis had been a spy for the Soviet Union.