Diplomat, academic, author and senior civil servant Denis McLean, CMG, died suddenly at his Wellington home yesterday morning. He was 80.

Professor McLean was Secretary of Defence from 1979 until he resigned in 1988, and ambassador to the United States from 1991 to 1994.

Close friend Sir John Jeffries said Professor McLean had had a remarkable career, as well as being a distinguished rugby player, a Rhodes Scholar and a Press Council member.