Minister apologises to academic Sir Roger Scruton over sacking

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Sir Roger ScrutonImage source, Getty Images

Housing Secretary James Brokenshire has apologised to academic Sir Roger Scruton for sacking him as a government adviser over a magazine interview.

Sir Roger lost the unpaid post in April following comments about China and about financier George Soros in an interview with the New Statesman.

The magazine has since apologised, after admitting the remarks had been taken out of context.

Mr Brokenshire said he regretted the decision to remove him from the job.

The quotes attributed to Sir Roger described the Chinese "creating robots out of their own people" and referred to a "Soros empire" in Hungary - a reference to the Jewish billionaire George Soros.

As soon as the interview was published online earlier criticism came that the remarks were inflammatory - even racist.

Downing Street said his comments were deeply offensive and completely unacceptable, and he was swiftly sacked from his unpaid role as the chair of the government's Building Beautiful architecture commission.

'Partial report'

The magazine later clarified that Sir Roger's remarks on China were a criticism of the restrictive regime of the Chinese Communist Party.

It also said his remarks on George Soros had been followed by a statement that "it's not necessarily an empire of Jews; that's such nonsense" - but that this was not included in the published interview.

The magazine also apologised for the way it had posted social media links to the article, where it said Sir Roger's views "were not accurately represented in the tweets to his disadvantage".

In a letter published in the Spectator magazine, Mr Brokenshire said he regretted the decision to remove Sir Roger from his role.

"I am sorry - especially as it was based on a clearly partial report of your thoughts", he added.

The minister said he would like to invite him to discuss the next stage of the commission's work, "and what part you might be prepared to play in advancing this important agenda".

A Downing Street spokeswoman said Mr Brokenshire had "expressed regret over the circumstances of his dismissal."

"I believe that they are meeting in the coming days to have a discussion."