The 'brilliant' Home Secretary whose last days were overshadowed by abuse claims: Tributes to Leon Brittan as he dies of cancer aged 75 - while Westminster STILL awaits launch of sex inquiry
- The Tory peer died in his sleep last night aged 75, his family said today
- He had been suffering from cancer and died in his home in London
- Treated in hospital over Christmas 2013 for cancer and heart trouble
- Comes amid controversy over role in the Westminster child abuse scandal
- He was sent a dossier of paedophile allegations, which has since been lost
- Ex Tory leader Michael Howard said 'his last days were dogged' by the row
- Brittan served as Home Secretary and Trade and Industry Secretary
- The pro European was also trade commissioner for the European Union
- Tributes poured in from across the political spectrum this afternoon
Former Conservative peer Lord Brittan has died after a long battle against Cancer
Controversial former Home Secretary Leon Brittan has died, his family confirmed today.
The Conservative peer passed away in his London home last night aged 75 after a long battle with cancer.
It comes amid ongoing controversy over his role in the failure to properly investigate Westminster paedophilia claims as Home Secretary in the 1980s.
An inquiry into historic child abuse allegations has been beset by problems since it was set up last year - after two chairmen were forced to step down over their personal links to Lord Brittan. The inquiry is still without a leader and is yet to formally begin.
Lord Brittan was accused of failing to act on a dossier of allegations about paedophiles which was handed to him when he was Home Secretary in the 1980s by the campaigning MP Geoffrey Dickens.
The family of Lord Brittan released a statement confirming his death.
A spokesman said: 'It is with great regret that we announce the death of Leon Brittan.
'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 last night at his home in London after a long battle with cancer. We shall miss him enormously. There will be a private funeral service for family only, and a memorial service to be announced.'
David Cameron this afternoon paid tribute to Lord Brittan as a 'dedicated and fiercely intelligent public servant'.
He said: 'As a central figure in Margaret Thatcher’s government, he helped her transform our country for the better by giving distinguished service as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Home Secretary, and Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.
'He went on to play a leading role at the European Commission where he did so much to promote free trade in Europe and across the world.
'More recently, he made an active contribution to the House of Lords. My thoughts are with Leon’s family and friends at this sad time for them.”
William Hague, who succeeded Brittan as the MP for Richmond, led tributes to him in the House of Commons.
He said: ‘Many of us who have known him a long time know he’s been ill for many months but it is a sad moment to receive this news.
'The house will understand my predecessor as Member of Parliament for Richmond Yorkshire, which is why I particularly want to pay tribute to him as a former member of this House and former home secretary.
‘He was a kind, assiduous and brilliant man. I know the whole House will join me in sending our deepest condolences to his wife Diana at this difficult time.’
Baron Brittan of Spennithorne, pictured with his wife Diana at their London home, died last night aged 75 after a long battle with cancer
In July last year Labour MP Simon Danczuk claimed that Lord Brittan had been sent a dossier of allegations about paedophiles between 1983 and 1985
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg recalled his time working for Lord Brittan when he was European Trade commissioner.
He said: 'Leon was one of the most intelligent figures in modern British public life.
'When I worked for Leon in Brussels almost twenty years ago, his forensic understanding of detailed issues combined with his passionate belief in internationalism was evident to everyone.
'His courage in sticking up for his pro-European views, despite huge pressure to the contrary, never wavered.
'His intellectual curiosity about politics; the arts; history; and literature was encyclopedic.
'Even as illness affected him badly in recent years, he kept up his lifelong habit of reading a constant flow of books on a huge range of subjects.
'My heart goes out to Diana Brittan and Leon's family at this very sad time.'
Lord Brittan - then Home Secretary - pictured at the Conservative Party Conference in Brighton October 1984
Trade and Industry Secretary Leon Brittan arrives at Kings Cross Station following his resignation from the government due to the Westland Affair. 25th January 1986
In 2010 he was appointed by Mr Cameron as a government trade adviser after a lifetime in politics. He was Home Secretary and Trade and Industry Secretary under Margaret Thatcher and then trade commissioner for the European Union.
As one of the most prominent Tory 'wets' he clashed with Mrs Thatcher in the 1980s - finally resigning from the government in 1986 after he was found to have leaked a damaging letter during Cabinet infighting over the Westland helicopter affair.
In July last year Labour MP Simon Danczuk claimed that Lord Brittan had been sent a dossier of allegations about paedophiles between 1983 and 1985 by Mr Dickens.
Lord Brittan denied being responsible for a cover-up of child abuse allegations.