UK Politics

Sir Roger Scruton returns to government role after magazine row

Sir Roger Scruton Image copyright Getty Images

Academic Sir Roger Scruton has been re-appointed to his unpaid role as a government housing adviser after the minister who sacked him apologised.

Sir Roger lost the post in April when comments about China and financier George Soros were published by the New Statesman magazine.

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

The communities secretary said last week he regretted firing Sir Roger.

In a letter published in the Spectator after his re-appointment, Sir Roger said he was "so pleased that all has been resolved in a friendly way and we can return to the matter in hand, which is so important".

He will serve as co-chair of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission, an independent body that advises the government on promoting better home designs, improving the planning system and exploring how new settlements could be developed with greater community consent.

The quotes attributed to Sir Roger by the New Statesman 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.

They were criticised as inflammatory and even racist.

Downing Street said at the time the remarks were deeply offensive and completely unacceptable, and Sir Roger was swiftly sacked.

However, in July, the magazine apologised, acknowledging that the academic's views had not been reported fairly or in full.

It 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".

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire apologised last week and in a letter published on Tuesday he said to Sir Roger: "I know that you still have so much more to give and hope this may also help to put things right after the regrettable events of recent months."

Who is Roger Scruton?

Sir Roger is a writer and academic who teaches an MA philosophy programme at the University of Buckingham.

He has written several books covering a range of subjects including political thought, English identity and the work of German composer Richard Wagner - as well as a number of novels.

He regularly contributes to Radio 4's A Point of View programme, often arguing in defence of freedom of expression.

In 2000, he told the Guardian he became a conservative, after witnessing the Paris riots of May 1968, saying: "I was disgusted by it, and thought there must be a way back to the defence of Western civilisation against these things... I knew I wanted to conserve things rather than pull them down."

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