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Obituary: Lord Moser KCB

Governor and Fellow

Birkbeck was saddened to hear of the death of Claus Moser, Baron Moser of Regent’s Park in the London Borough of Camden, on 4 September 2015 aged 92.

The eminent statistician, economist and champion of the arts and sciences was a Governor and later Fellow of Birkbeck, and a strong supporter of the College. In recent years he took a keen interest in the work of the Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism, based at Birkbeck.

Born in Berlin on November 24 1922 into a family of bankers, Claus Moser and his family were fortunate to be able to leave Germany for England in 1936, but his childhood memories included the torchlight procession the night Hitler came to power, and the wearing of yellow stars.

He had been offered a place at the London School of Economics when, in 1940 he, his father and brother were interned for three months as enemy aliens. Most of their fellow internees were cultured German or Austrian refugees from Nazism. Claus Moser became an assistant to a professor of mathematics who spent his time conducting a survey of the inmates, and it was from this that his love of statistics was born.

On his release Claus Moser studied at LSE, gaining a First, before joining the RAF for the remainder of the war. In 1946 he returned to the LSE as an assistant lecturer in statistics, eventually becoming Professor of Social Statistics in 1961. In 1958 he published Survey Methods in Social Investigation, which became a standard textbook. He began sitting on external committees, and it was the 1964 Robbins Report on Higher Education which brought him into public life. Asked to compile the report’s statistical appendices, Moser produced a wealth of information on British life which attracted much public attention.

In 1967 he was appointed Director of the Central Statistical Office, later becoming chairman of the Royal Opera House, and then vice-chairman of the bankers N M Rothschild.

In 1984 Claus Moser became Warden of Wadham College, Oxford, and then pro-vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford. He was later Chancellor of Keele University and of the Open University in Israel and held numerous honorary degrees. He sat on many boards, commissions, governing bodies and Jewish charitable committees, and from 1993 chaired the British Museum Development Trust.

His obituary in the Daily Telegraph notes that Claus Moser belonged to ‘that generation of brilliant and industrious central European Jewry displaced by Hitler which did so much to enrich Britain economically and culturally after the Second World War.’

Lord Moser was made a Knight Commander of the Bath (KCB) in 1973 and a life peer in 2001.