TOM Nairn, the “intellectual godfather of the modern Scottish independence movement” has died aged 90, a friend has confirmed.

The academic had been unwell “for some years” prior to his death on Saturday morning, according to a statement issued by openDemocracy founder Anthony Barnett and archaeologist Judith Herrin on behalf of Nain’s family.

The statement read: “On behalf of his family, we are heartbroken to announce the death of Tom Nairn.

“Aged 90, Tom had been poorly for some years. He died peacefully after a fall, on Saturday morning, 21 January.

“He leaves his partner Millicent Petrie, two children Rachel and Greig and a granddaughter, Harley.”

Tributes have poured in for Nairn, who was maybe best known for his seminal collection of essays on nationalism The Break-Up of Britain.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: "Very sorry to hear that Tom Nairn has died. He was one of the greatest thinkers, political theorists and intellectuals that Scotland has ever produced - and certainly one of the leading and most respected voices of civic nationalism. My condolences to his loved ones."

Adam Ramsay, an openDemocracy journalist said: “Very sad to confirm that Britain’s greatest contemporary philosopher, the iconic theorist of nationalism and intellectual godfather of the modern Scottish independence movement, Tom Nairn, died earlier today.”

Writer Gerry Hassan said: “Tom Nairn has died at 90. A personal friend over many years. He contributed so much to the intellectual life of Scotland, understanding the nature of the UK and wider world.

“I feel the world is a less interesting place but Tom's influence and impact will go on for decades.”