Sir Roger Scruton, a revered Conservative philosopher who cleared his name after being sacked as a government advisor over false anti-Semitism claims, has died after a six-month battle with cancer.
The Cambridge graduate – author of some 50 books on morals, politics, architecture and aesthetics – died on Sunday, with his family saying they are ‘hugely proud of him and of all his achievements’.
Tory MEP Daniel Hannan tweeted: ‘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.’
Sir Roger had been sacked as a government advisor in April last year after an interview he gave to The New Statesman which wildly misrepresented his views and led to claims of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
The father-of-two described his sacking as a ‘witch-hunt of people on the Right’ and said he had faced the ‘complete destruction’ of his ‘career, identity and personality’.
Sir Roger with his wife Sophie, daughter Lucy and son Sam after he was knighted for services to philosophy, teaching and public education in 2016
Spectator columnist James Delingpole paid tribute to ‘a brave, great man’
Tory MEP Daniel Hannan described Sir Roger as ‘the greatest conservative of our age’
Mail on Sunday columnist and author Peter Hitchens paid tribute to Sir Roger on Sunday night, calling him a man of ‘immense courage’
The magazine and James Brokenshire, the Communities Secretary who sacked Sir Roger, later apologised to him.
Sir Roger looks on after being decorated the Middle Cross of the Hungarian Order of Merit by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the Hungarian embassy in London in December
A statement from Sir Roger’s family tonight said: ‘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 6 months. His family are hugely proud of him and of all his achievements.’
Meanwhile Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens tweeted: ‘RIP Sir Roger Scruton, a man of immense courage, intellect and fortitude, whose loss we can ill afford in these narrow, conformist times.’
Spectator columnist James Delingpole wrote: ‘RIP Roger Scruton – a brave, great man.’
Last year, The New Statesman’s George Eaton had quoted Sir Roger as saying there was a ‘[George] Soros empire in Hungary’, but The New Statesman left out that he had continued: ‘it’s not necessarily an empire of Jews, that’s such nonsense’.
The magazine also quoted him as saying ‘each Chinese person is a kind of replica of the next one’, but later accepted he was criticising the Chinese Communist Party rather than Chinese people themselves.
Sir Roger Scruton’s personal website said: ‘It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Sir Roger Scruton, FBA, FRSL’ (pictured: Sir Roger Scruton at the FT Weekend Oxford Literary festival, Oxfordshire in 2014)
He was sacked by the government for reportedly saying Islamophobia was a ‘propaganda word’.
But it later emerged he had also said: ‘Muslims who settle into the Meccan way of life are obviously perfect citizens. They have the inner serenity that the citizen should have. We ought to learn to appreciate that –and encourage it.’
Mr Brokenshire later penned an open-letter to him in the Spectator magazine, saying he regretted his decision.
‘I am sorry – especially as it was based on a clearly partial report of your thoughts,’ Mr Brokenshire wrote in July.
The New Statesman also apologised to Sir Roger, saying tweets about the interview ‘did not accurately represent his views’.
That a reference to a series of tweets by Mr Eaton, who had characterised Sir Roger’s statements to him as ‘outrageous.’
Writing in The Spectator‘s review of the year, Sir Roger wrote last month on the month ‘April’: ‘Readers of The Spectator do not need reminding of the sequel. The interview is duly published — a mendacious concoction of out-of-context remarks and downright fabrications.
Sir Roger, a keen huntsmen, saddled up ready to ride with the Vale of the White Horse Hunt
Cambridge-graduate Sir Roger was a revered Conservative philosopher and was invited to speak to academics and dignitaries throughout the world (pictured in 1989, left, and at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in 2010, right)
‘We are able to obtain the tapes of the interview, and on the strength of this, and thanks to all the support that is offered to me, not least by this magazine and its brave associate editor Douglas Murray, I obtain an apology from the New Statesman.’
In his piece he referred to Mr Eaton as ‘an eager young man’ who had ‘come not to learn about my views but to reinforce his own
He had been knighted in 2016 for services to philosophy, teaching and public education and was joined at Buckingham Palace by his wife Sophie, daughter Lucy and son Sam.
Sir Roger graduated from Cambridge University in 1965 and paid particular attention to aesthetics, architecture and music in his philosophical work.
Damning claims by his accusers – and what he really said
Sir Roger Scruton’s alleged remarks were initially recorded by the New Statesman. But a leaked taped recording of the interview was published in The Spectator, which said his comments had been manipulated and taken out of context.
New Statesman: ‘They’re creating robots out of their own people… each Chinese person is a kind of replica of the next one and that is a very frightening thing.’
Spectator: ‘There are difficulties around the corner that we are ignoring, like the rise of China. There is something quite frightening about the Chinese sort of mass politics and the regimentation of the ordinary being. We invent robots and they are in a sense creating robots out of their own people, by so constraining what can be done, that each Chinese person is a kind of replica of the next one and that’s a very frightening thing.’
Sir Roger also decried the Chinese government’s alleged use of ‘concentration camps’ to detain and ‘re-educate’ Uighur Muslims.
New Statesman: ‘Anybody who doesn’t think that there’s a Soros empire in Hungary has not observed the facts’ (a reference to Hungarian-born Jewish philanthropist George Soros, condemned as an anti-Semitic trope).
Spectator: ‘Anybody who doesn’t think that there’s a Soros empire in Hungary has not observed the facts. It’s not necessarily an empire of Jews – I mean that’s such nonsense… If you had a political movement in Hungary which excluded the Jews in some way you’d be damn foolish, because they are the ones with the minds.’
New Statesman: ‘The Hungarians were extremely alarmed by the sudden invasion of huge tribes of Muslims from the Middle East.’ Sir Roger was quoted as saying it was ‘nonsense’ to accuse Hungarian leader Viktor Orban of anti-Semitism or Islamophobia, and to have said Islamophobia was a propaganda word ‘invented by the Muslim Brotherhood in order to stop discussion of a major issue’.
Spectator: ‘I think power has gone to his [Orban’s] head. He’s made some decisions which are very popular with the Hungarian people. Because the Hungarians were extremely alarmed by this sudden invasion of, um, huge tribes of Muslims from the Middle East. And you have to remember that their history of their relation with Islam is not a happy one…
‘Muslims who settle into the Meccan way of life are obviously perfect citizens. They have the inner serenity that the citizen should have. We ought to learn to appreciate that –and encourage it.’