Sir Alan Walters persuaded Margaret Thatcher to raise taxes during a recession in 1981. (Fiona Hanson / Associated Press)
Sir Alan Walters

Economic advisor

Sir Alan Walters, 82, a top economic advisor to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, died Saturday in England after suffering from Parkinson's disease for seven years.

"Alan Walters was the best economic advisor any prime minister ever had -- radical, fearless, consistent and creative," Thatcher said in a statement. "He was a great public servant and, to me personally, he was the truest of friends."

Walters persuaded Thatcher to take one of her biggest risks by raising taxes during a recession in 1981. The decision was later credited with helping to lay the foundation for Britain's sustained growth in the 1990s.

An outspoken aide, Walters also played a key role in the 1989 resignation of British Chancellor Nigel Lawson -- an event that eventually helped lead to Thatcher's political demise.

Walters, who was skeptical about Britain seeking an increased financial union with mainland Europe, clashed repeatedly with Lawson over the direction of economic policy. He called plans for Britain to join the European Monetary Union "half baked."

Walters left the government right after Lawson's departure, and Thatcher was forced from office a year later.

Walters went on to pursue a lengthy career in the private sector and working in academic fields. He received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II in 1983.

Born into a working-class family in Leicester on June 17, 1926, Walters attended Nuffield College at Oxford. He taught economics in Britain and the United States before moving into senior government posts.

-- Staff and wire reports