A Bradford journalist who claimed to be the first reporter to discover the identity of the Yorkshire Ripper has died suddenly in his sleep. Derek Crabtree was 82 when he died at his home in Idle on Monday.

For many years Mr Crabtree, who leaves a wife Marion, two daughters and four grandchidlren, ran a news agency in the city founded by his grandfather John William Crabtree in 1916 and then led by his father Harry.

The agency covered news and sport for national newspapers and from 1968 was taken on by Derek in partnership with a former agency apprentice Donald Newton.

He claimed to be the first journalist to discover the identity of the Yorkshire Ripper when he found police surrounding Peter Sutcliffe’s home in Heaton.

Both he and Mr Newton retired in 1993 but continued to help out – Mr Newton died aged 79 in 2006 and the agency closed in 2008.

In his retirement Mr Crabtree had been registrar at Eccleshill Retired Men’s Forum. He had also been made an honorary member of the Retired Telegraph & Argus Editorial Employees group.

Chairman of the group Stanley Pearson who knew him for many years said: "He never lost touch with life after he retired. We made an exception making him a member because although he was not a T&A employee as such, he had worked day, noon and night supplying us with news.

"We often joked he deserved to be a member because he did more work single-handedly than half the newsroom together!"

Mr Crabtree also had a part to play in saving the then Bradford Northern, now the Bulls, from extinction when it went bust in the early 1960s.

He and Northern legend Trevor Foster got together at Crabtrees' office in Sunbridge Road and drafted a letter to the Rugby League bosses asking for a stay of execution.

Mr Pearson said: "They called a meeting at St George's Hall and the place was packed - as a result they saved Bradford Northern from extinction."

Details of Mr Crabtree's funeral are still to be announced.