Councillor and public decency spokeswoman

Born: September 18, 1930;

Died: August 4, 2016

MOIRA Knox, who has died of a stroke aged 85, was a legendary figure on the Edinburgh Fringe. She never had her own show, but a few words of outrage and condemnation from the city’s self-appointed guardian of public decency could generate national publicity and sell-out audiences.

An Edinburgh city councillor for 20 years, she was at her heyday in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1997, The Independent newspaper carried an A to Z of the Fringe and she was the chosen subject for K.

“Every year she will find a show offensive and call for it to be banned,” it said. “The show will then sell out on the tidal wave of publicity she creates, leading some to believe that she is actually on the payroll of a shrewd marketing man. I'm sure some performers, with an eye on ticket sales, deliberately try to wind her up.”

She had no truck with nudity, bad language, blasphemy and other such “filth” on stage. “I’m not a prude,” she said, “but if nudity was acceptable we’d all be walking around without any clothes on, wouldn’t we?"

She was always on hand for journalists who needed a quick comment on any show which might be considered to be pushing at the borders of public decency. It did not matter that she had not seen the show. The reporter could always give her the gist of it. Her comments would sometimes wind up on the posters for the shows themselves.

Actually shows did not need to be pushing at the borders to provoke her wrath. Any show that even thought of straying from the straight and narrow road of wholesome entertainment risked her ire.

She did seemingly make an exception for the classics. She was on the board of the official festival, which was happy enough to put on any number of Shakespearean productions featuring deeds which would be frowned upon if we were all walking around doing them, irrespective of our state of dress.

One of her most celebrated clashes was with the modern American circus “freak” Jim Rose, whose show involved hammering nails into various of his body parts, parts the very exposure of which could cause offence. She attended one of Rose’s shows after being alerted to it by a mysterious organisation called Parental Care.

One of three children, Moira Buchan Murray Gallagher was born in Glasgow in 1930. Her father was a sports journalist who wrote for the Daily Express under the name Waverley. She worked as a secretary at the Scottish Amicable Life Assurance Society and married her boss Malcolm Knox in 1956.

She was a big fan of Margaret Thatcher, on whom she seemingly modelled both her politics and her appearance. But while Denis Thatcher stayed pretty much in the background, Moira Knox took her lead from her husband, who was a councillor before her, elected back in the days of the Progressives, before the Conservative Party contested local Edinburgh elections.

She was one of the most colourful characters on the city council when I was a young reporter and I remember her at a time when many councillors seemed just that bit more colourful than they are today. This was back in the day when Tory councillors had forenames like Cornelius and Aeneas – seriously.

She represented the Davidson’s Mains ward, served as Conservative group secretary and became an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list of June 1989 for political and public service.

At the city chambers she was often accompanied by her latest poodle – and I am using the term in its literal sense, though it was the butt of many a good-natured joke from the Labour benches.

“We used to have a lot of banter in the council chambers,” said Steve Cardownie, the former SNP group leader, who was a Labour councillor when Knox was on the council. The current council leader Andrew Burns commented: “Politics has always been home to big personalities and Moira Knox was one of Edinburgh’s most memorable councillors.”

She was best known for her stance on public decency. Less well known was her interest in animal welfare. She was active in the International League for the Protection of Horses and campaigned for reforms on international animal transportation, including the provision of food and water and maximum journey times.

In the early 2000s she noted that she was receiving fewer and fewer calls about “filth” on the Fringe, which she took as evidence that visiting companies had taken notice of her criticism and cleaned up their act, though many might argue that standards had changed and what was once regarded as controversial no longer caused much in the way of comment.

Her husband predeceased her. They did not have children. Latterly Knox moved to Crieff to live in a home with her elder sister Violet, who survives her.