Former WA premier Ray O’Connor has died aged 86.

The at-times controversial politician, who was jailed for fraud in 1995 in the wake of the WA Inc scandal, died peacefully at a nursing home surrounded by family.

Commonly known as “Rocky”, Mr O’Connor took over as Liberal Party leader from Sir Charles Court and served as WA premier from 1982 until 1983, when Brian Burke claimed victory for the Labor Party.

His name was synonymous with WA politics from the early 1960s, but in the mid-1970s he became embroiled in allegations about the vice industry in Perth.

Mr O’Connor was even linked to allegations that brothel madam Shirley Finn was murdered in 1975 in a hit man-style killing to stop her naming powerful people she paid protection money.

At the time of her death Mr O’Connor was the police minister.

During an interview with The West Australian in 2010, ahead of a series of articles about WA’s underworld, Mr O’Connor denied having any connection to the shooting of Ms Finn.

In a statement, Premier Colin Barnett said: "I am saddened to hear about the death of former WA Premier Ray O’Connor overnight.

"Ray served in the WA Parliament for 24 years and as a minister, held several portfolios including Labour & Industry, Consumer Affairs, Immigration, Fisheries and Environment, Transport and Police.

"He was Deputy Premier from 1980 and Premier from 1982-3.

"My deepest sympathy goes to his family."

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He was jailed for being a “bagman”, linked to allegations about the hit man-style shooting of a Perth brothel madam and had a half brother who was found on railway tracks at one-day old.

Read the extraordinary life and times of Ray O’Connor in tomorrow’s The West Australian.

The West Australian

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