A conservative philosopher has been reappointed to a government commission from which he was sacked when he was judged to have made inflammatory remarks about Chinese people during a magazine interview.
Sir Roger Scruton has said that he was misrepresented and made to look as if he was making a “racist slur” about Chinese people following an interview with the New Statesman, which subsequently apologised to him and said that his views were not accurately represented.
The academic, who had been chairman of the government’s Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission, has now been appointed as its co-chair by the housing, communities and local government secretary, James Brokenshire.
In a letter, he expressed his gratitude for Scruton’s thoughts on what form the re-appointment might take, including a suggestion that he would become a co-chair alongside Nicholas Boys Smith.
The minister concluded: “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.”
Scruton replied that he was pleased that the matter had been resolved, according to correspondence published on Tuesday by the Spectator, which played a key part in the affair when it obtained a recording of the original New Statesman interview with the philosopher.
The Spectator turned Scruton’s sacking into a cause célèbre for conservatives, who insisted quotes in a New Statesman article – such as: “Each Chinese person is a kind of replica of the next one and that is a very frightening thing” – were part of a longer discussion by him about the power of the Chinese state to impose its will on citizens, rather than racism.
The Conservative leadership candidates, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, had both called for the reinstatement of the 75-year-old writer, who claimed in April that he was the victim of a witch-hunt and an attempt to silence voices such as his.
The commission on which he will again serve has been charged with ensuring new housing developments are attractive and engage with, as well as reflect, local communities.
Brokenshire said the body’s interim report – which was presented on 9 July by Boys Smith – provided an opportunity to consider next steps in finalising recommendations to the government.
Scruton told the Guardian that he was “very glad that this has been resolved, and that I can devote some time to what is one of our most important national problems”.
In an apology, the New Statesman said that links to the original article were tweeted out with partial quotations from the interview – including a truncated version of a quotation regarding China.
“We acknowledge that the views of Professor Scruton were not accurately represented in the tweets to his disadvantage. We apologise for this, and regret any distress that this has caused Sir Roger,” the magazine added.