The conservative philosopher and government adviser Sir Roger Scruton has died of cancer at the age of 75.
The writer – author of more than 50 books on morals, politics, architecture and aesthetics– lectured at Birkbeck College, University of London from 1971-1992, and was a chairman of the government’s Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission.
Scruton was appointed to the role as a housing adviser in November 2018, but was sacked in April 2019 after he was judged to have made racist remarks during an interview with the New Statesman. He was then reappointed in July 2019 after the magazine apologised and said that his views had been misrepresented.
The issue had quickly become a conservative battleground issue, with Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt calling for his reinstatement after he claimed he had been the victim of witch-hunt.
He was reported as saying the Chinese were “creating robots of their own people”, but the magazine later clarified his criticism was of the restrictive regime of the Chinese Communist party.
He was reported as saying the Chinese were “creating robots of their own people”, but the magazine later clarified his criticism was of the restrictive regime of the Chinese Communist party
Scruton also referred to a “Soros empire” in Hungary – a reference to Jewish billionaire George Soros – but the magazine did not include the rest of his statement that “it’s not necessarily an empire of Jews; that’s such nonsense”.
The magazine subsequently apologised for the way it had posted social media links to the article in which “the views of Professor Scruton were not accurately represented in the tweets to his disadvantage”.
His family said in a statement: “It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Sir Roger Scruton, FBA, FRSL. Beloved husband of Sophie, adored father to Sam and Lucy and treasured brother of Elizabeth and Andrea, he died peacefully on Sunday 12th January.
“He was born on 27th February 1944 and had been fighting cancer for the last six months. His family are hugely proud of him and of all his achievements.”
He was knighted for his services to philosophy, teaching and public education in 2016.
The Tory MEP Daniel Hannan led tributes, tweeting: “Very sad news.
Professor Sir Roger Scruton, the greatest conservative of our age, has died. The country has lost a towering intellect. I have lost a wonderful friend.”
Robert Jenrick, the secretary of state for Housing, Communities and Local Government, tweeted: “Deeply sorry to learn of the death of Sir Roger Scruton. His work on building more beautifully, submitted recently to my department, will proceed and stand part of his unusually rich legacy.”