Tributes have been paid to David McLetchie, former leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, who has died from cancer at the age of 61. A lawyer, he was elected to the first Scottish Parliament in 1999. A list MSP for the Lothians, he led his party until 2005 when he stood down following controversy over his expenses. As a mark of respect, the flags over Holyrood will fly at half-staff until after the funeral.
The current leader of the Scottish Tories, Ruth Davidson said: “Our heartfelt sympathies are with his family at this desperately sad time.”
The First Minister, Alex Salmond, described Mr McLetchie as “a very considerable politician of the devolution era”; while his deputy, Nicola Sturgeon described his as “a fine parliamentarian and a true gentleman.” She added that he was “a tough opponent but one who was always willing to find common ground and build consensus. He never allowed political disagreements to become personal – it was always easy to share a laugh with David, notwithstanding the cut and thrust of political debate.”
The Scottish Liberal Democrat’s leader, Willie Rennie, said Mr McLetchie was a “towering figure” who would “forever be regarded as a public servant who made a difference. Whether as party leader or foot soldier he commanded immediate respect and trust from friend and foe alike. I will miss his humour and intelligence.”
Scottish Labour leader, Johann Lamont, described his death as “a huge loss to the Scottish Parliament”. She went on: “For all of us who knew and worked with David, we will remember his passion, drive and determination. Scotland has lost a committed public servant who has been taken from us far sooner than was right. We will all remember David for the substantial contribution he made to public life in Scotland.”
The leader of the Scottish Greens, Patrick Harvie, said that despite having many political differences, he found the MSP to be “a sharp wit, a serious debater and a decent man”, adding that Holyrood would be “poorer without him.”
The Director of CBI Scotland, Iain McMillan, said he was “very sorry to learn of the death of David McLetchie. Over the years, my colleagues and I worked closely with David on matters of public policy and we had a very high regard for him. He was also a very fine man and we will miss him greatly. Our thoughts are with David’s family at this sad time.”