The wife of Conservative former cabinet minister Owen Paterson has been found dead at their family home, the MP has said.

In a statement, former environment secretary Mr Paterson said the loss of his wife, Rose, had come as a “terrible shock” to the family.

“It is with great sadness that I must inform you that my wife, Rose, has been found dead at our family home in Shropshire,” he said.

“Rose and I were married for 40 happy years. She was a wonderful, caring wife, mother and grandmother.

“Her death has come as a terrible shock to us all. I would ask the media to respect the privacy of myself and my family at this extremely difficult time.”

Mrs Paterson, the daughter of the fourth Viscount Ridley, was the chairman of Aintree Racecourse. The couple married in 1980 and had two sons and a daughter.

Mr Paterson was in Cabinet under David Cameron from 2010 to 2014, first as Northern Ireland secretary before taking over the environment brief.