Leon Brittan: Died last night, reports confirm (Source: Getty)
Former Conservative MP and one-time home secretary Leon Brittan has died aged 75.
Brittan's family has confirmed that he died last night (January 21) after "a long battle with cancer".
The statement added:
"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 committement to British public life as a member of Parliament, minister, cabinet minister, European commissioner and peer - together with his distinguished career in law and latterly in business."
The news was initially tweeted by former agriculture minister and secretary of state for education John Deben this afternoon.
Prime Minister David Cameron described him as "a dedicated and fiercely intelligent public servant".
"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."
Brittan was first elected as an MP in 1974 as a member for Cleveland and Whitby. Under Margaret Thatcher he was minister of state at the Home Office before being promoted to the role of chief secretary to the Treasury, becoming the youngest member of the Cabinet.
He became secretary of state for trade and industry in 1985, but resigned a year later over his handling of the Westland affair.
Brittan was knighted in 1989 and made European commissioner for competition the same year, resigning his role as MP to take the position.
More recently he was implicated in the child abuse activity that allegedly took place in Westminster during the 1980s.
Initially he was accused of having been involved in a cover-up of a dossier, although a 2013 review found that he had acted appropriately in dealing with allegations.
Subsequently however he was accused of "improper conduct" himself, and in June last year he was interviewed under caution by the police over the alleged rape of a 19-year-old student in 1967.
He was not arrested, and later stated that the allegation was "wholly without foundation".