Former British home secretary Leon Brittan dies of cancer

Conservative peer served in Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet during 1980s

Former British home secretary Leon Brittan died on Wednesday night at his home in London after a long battle with cancer, his family has said.

Lord Brittan, a Conservative peer who was recently caught up in a row over allegations that he failed to act on evidence of child abuse by senior figures in Westminster in the 1980s, died aged 75 at his home in London.

His family statement said: “As a family, we should like to pay tribute to him as a beloved husband to Diana and brother to Samuel, and a supportive and loving stepfather to Katharine and Victoria, and step-grandfather to their children.

‘Extraordinary commitment’


“We also salute his extraordinary commitment to British public life as a Member of Parliament, Minister, Cabinet Minister, European Commissioner and Peer - together with a distinguished career in law, and latterly in business.

“Leon passed away last night at his home in London after a long battle with cancer. We shall miss him enormously.”

Former Tory leader William Hague led tributes to Lord Brittan.

He said his predecessor as MP for Richmond, in North Yorkshire, was a kind and brilliant man. “I know the whole House will join me in sending our deepest condolences to his wife Diana at this difficult time.”

Former chancellor of the exchequer Lord Lamont said: “I’m very sorry to hear the sad news of the death of Lord Brittan.

“He was a man of great brilliance who would have risen to the top of whatever profession he had chosen. He was also a very kind and good man.

‘Outstanding job’

“He did an outstanding job as an EU commissioner in Brussels, handling all the complex trade issues with a great mastery of detail.”

Lord Deben - who served alongside Lord Brittan in Margaret Thatcher's administration as John Gummer - said: "Very sad to see Leon Brittan has died. A good and honourable servant of his country. A decent and lasting friend. He will be sorely missed."

The family statement added there would be a private funeral service for family only, and a memorial service yet to be announced.

Press Association