I first met Henry Macrory over twenty years ago when I joined the Sunday Express as a junior political reporter. The team that had been assembled on the paper at the time was legendary – Peter Oborne, Andrew Pierce, Jon Craig, and Simon Walters all writing or commenting on politics. A young Patrick O’Flynn was cutting his Fleet Street teeth. They’d fight (sometimes physically), row, discuss ideas, help each other with leads, throws ideas about, sometimes throw things at each other, they sparked off one another, were competitive, creative and above all professional.

It was an extraordinary agglomeration of talent and it was an extraordinary team to join as a young reporter. Into this mix on the fourth floor of the old Express Building on Blackfriars Road would occasionally wonder Henry Macrory, the Political Editor of the Daily Star, which shared the building.

Henry, urbane and smooth with eyes twinkling would always have an interesting anecdote or useful suggestion. He has an eye for a story and knows how to write. A rarer combination in a journalist than one might think. It was his skill in the latter area that caused him some very amusing trouble at the time. On Saturday mornings his alter ego, Uncle Percy, wrote a column for the Daily Star. It was extraordinarily funny, not least because it lampooned the then editor of the Daily Express, Rosie Boycott. It took some time for this to be noticed by the powers that be. While it lasted it was the funniest thing to be read at the start of a weekend. The Rises and Falls of Whitaker Wright reflects well his skill and ability as a writer and his eye for a good story.

Whitaker Wright led one of the most extraordinary lives of the late Victorian era. Brought up in modest circumstances in the north of England his life encompassed a huge range of activity across several continents. He did a stint as a Methodist Minister, lived in Canada, made a huge fortune in the United States, built friendships with Peers and Royal Physicians, purchased a huge estate and created a lavish house in Surrey. Then there was the collapse of his business empire, conviction for fraud and his successful suicide in a waiting room in the Royal Courts of Justice once convicted.

It is the biography of a great adventurer, compellingly told.

Henry Macrory is one of the heaviest chunks of old Fleet Street metal still standing today. This book does great credit to the skills he learnt in there. After journalism he did a stint with the Conservatives, where he was conspicuously successful and held in great affection. Since then, apart from the occasional appearance at a memorial service or the odd ‘do’ he has largely become invisible. We now know what he has been up to. Having been a journalist and a political ‘spin doctor’ he has embarked on a third career as an author. This book is a very promising start.

The Rises and Falls of Whitaker Wright: The World’s Most Shameless Swindler by Henry Macrory, Biteback, £20