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The brother of former Prime Minister David Cameron has died from cancer at the age of 59. 

Alexander Cameron suffered a lengthy battle with ill health, stepping down from the bar for retirement after his cancer diagnosis in 2020 following a career spanning over 30 years. 

The star barrister was the first to appear on camera while in action at the Court of Appeal. But the brilliance of Alex made itself felt far beyond the courtroom.  

Some argue that it was his success which fired up the ambitions of his younger brother – so much so that his sibling propelled himself to the office of Prime Minister in 2010. 

The younger Cameron hinted as much when, twelve years ago, he guest edited the Big Issue magazine.

‘I lived in the shadow of my older brother,’ wrote the then Prime Minister. ‘He was three years older and was a huge success. It was great to have that kind of role model and I was incredibly proud of him, but like many younger brothers you find yourself always a few steps behind.’

Alexander Cameron suffered a lengthy battle with ill-health, stepping down from the bar for retirement after his cancer diagnosis in 2020 following a career spanning over 30 years

Alexander Cameron suffered a lengthy battle with ill-health, stepping down from the bar for retirement after his cancer diagnosis in 2020 following a career spanning over 30 years

Described as a 'phenomenon' with 'enthralling advocacy skills' and 'universally loved', he was just 39 when made a Queen's Counsel. Pictured: Leaving Southwark Crown Court on June 6, 2016

Described as a ‘phenomenon’ with ‘enthralling advocacy skills’ and ‘universally loved’, he was just 39 when made a Queen’s Counsel. Pictured: Leaving Southwark Crown Court on June 6, 2016

Alex Cameron in a Heatherdown prep school photograph, Heatherdown

Former Prime Minister David Cameron at Heatherdown prep school photograph, in 1976

Alex Cameron (left) in a Heatherdown prep school photograph, Heatherdown. Former Prime Minister David Cameron was also at Heatherdown prep school, as photographed in 1976 (right)

When their prep school, Heatherdown in Berkshire, put on a production of Toad Of Toad Hall, Alex – as he was always known – took centre stage as Rat. David had a minor role as ‘Harold Rabbit’.

The disparity in status grew at Eton, where Alex became a member of ‘Pop’, the school’s self-elected elite who are entitled to wear flamboyant waistcoats.

Alex’s leaver’s photo, recalls a friend, showed him ‘leaping a hurdle – he was a very good athlete – with a glass of champagne balancing on the hurdle.’ He still holds the course record for the 440m.

At Bristol University, he dazzled contemporaries. ‘He was extraordinarily personable and extremely bright,’ one of them says. ‘Just one of those personalities who could carry everyone with him.’

His talents were perfectly suited to his subsequent legal career, during which he married fellow barrister Sarah Fearnley-Whittingstall – cousin of chef Hugh – and had two children, Imogen and Angus. 

Described as a ‘phenomenon’ with ‘enthralling advocacy skills’ and ‘universally loved’, he was just 39 when made a Queen’s Counsel. 

He represented a string of high-profile clients including former editor of the News of the World Rebekah Brooks in her 2013 phone hacking defence. 

In the same year he became the first barrister in 90 years to be on camera while in court after a law change allowed for it.

After the day’s hearing at the Court of Appeal he told Sky News:  ‘It’s surprising. I only found out yesterday it was happening.’

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His brother was Prime Minister at the time and watched the broadcast on his phone during a train journey.

He revealed he didn’t know his brother would be on TV and said: ‘My reflection on that is that the noise and the atmosphere in the Court of Appeal is rather different to the noise and the atmosphere in the House of Commons for Prime Minister’s Question Time.

The two brothers were seen together at the wedding of their younger sister Clare Cameron and Jeremy Fawcus at Peasemore St Barnabas in Berkshire on April 24, 2010

The two brothers were seen together at the wedding of their younger sister Clare Cameron and Jeremy Fawcus at Peasemore St Barnabas in Berkshire on April 24, 2010

Some argue that it was his success which fired up the ambitions of his younger brother ¿ so much so that David Cameron propelled himself to the office of Prime Minister in 2010

Some argue that it was his success which fired up the ambitions of his younger brother – so much so that David Cameron propelled himself to the office of Prime Minister in 2010

‘It’s very quiet, it’s very ordered, it’s very reasonable. So I said to my brother perhaps he would like to do a job swap for a day.’

Alex’s chambers, Three Raymond Buildings, announced his passing.

It said: ‘It is with immense sadness that Chambers announces the death of Alexander Cameron KC.

‘Alex was considered to be one of the best silks at the Criminal Bar during his illustrious career, and was a hugely respected and inspirational head of these Chambers.

‘He will be missed enormously, and our heartfelt condolences go to his wife, Sarah, their children Imogen and Angus, and to his wider family.

‘Details of a memorial service will be announced in due course.’

His contribution to politics had been made long before. Not on his own behalf – he contented himself with being chairman of his parish council – but, it is said, by spurring on the younger brother who had once lived in his shadow, when the Conservative leadership was up for grabs. ‘You’ve got to go for it,’ said Alex. 

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The rest is history.

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