Former Home Secretary Leon Brittan

Former Home Secretary Leon Brittan

Former Home Secretary and ex-Cleveland & Whitby MP Leon Brittan has died after a long battle with cancer, his family has said.

Lord Brittan, whose family were Lithuanian Jews, 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 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.

“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 at his home in London after a long battle with cancer. We shall miss him enormously.”

Lord Brittan, 75, served as home secretary from 1983 to 1985 and president of the Board of Trade in 1985/86, before spending a decade in Brussels from 1989 to 1999 one of the UK’s European commissioners, and as vice-president of the Commission from 1989 to 1993 and 1995-99

He was MP for Cleveland & Whitby from 1974 to 1983 and for Richmond, Yorkshire, from 1983 to 1988.

His family said there will be a private funeral service for family only, and a memorial service will be announced.

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.”

Sir Peter Bottomley, a fellow former Conservative minister, said Lord Brittan’s dedication to public service had been “an inspiration”.

“He showed that intelligence and commitment could be of value to the country,” he said.

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