David McLetchie: Funeral held for former Scottish Tory leader

David McLetchie's coffin is carried from the church The funeral took place at Blackhall St Columba's Parish Church in Edinburgh

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Political leaders have joined hundreds of mourners to pay their last respects to former Scottish Conservative Party leader David McLetchie at his funeral.

The Lothian MSP died from cancer last week at the age of 61.

He died at St Columba's Hospice in Edinburgh on 12 August with his family by his side.

The funeral service at Blackhall St Columba's Parish Church in the capital was attended by people from across the political spectrum.

First Minister Alex Salmond, current Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson, Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont and Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie joined family, friends and colleagues of Mr McLetchie at the service.

Paid tribute

Former chancellor Alistair Darling, who is now chairman of the Better Together campaign, and Foreign Secretary William Hague were also in the congregation.

The funeral service The funeral service took place in Edinburgh

The 700-capacity church was said to be full for the service.

Mr McLetchie's son, James, and former Holyrood presiding officer Alex Fergusson, who was a close friend of the MSP, paid tributes during the ceremony.

James McLetchie said his "brilliant father" was also a "brilliant friend".

He told mourners: "What I'll remember most about my dad is the sheer size of his personality and the positive effect that he had on other people.

"He was a big man in stature but even bigger in presence. If he walked into any room you knew about it, and there are very few people in the world who have that ability.

"He could never have been classed as cool in the traditional sense, but the fact that he didn't care if the little hair he had was all over the place, he never owned a pair of jeans in his life and he sang his heart out to Beach Boys and Tina Turner songs in the car at full volume with the window down for anyone to hear made him exactly that."

Mr McLetchie, who was a lawyer before being elected to the Scottish Parliament in 1999, was the Scottish Tories' first leader of the devolution era.

Ruth Davidson at the funeral Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson attended the funeral

He took on the leadership of the Scottish Conservatives in 1998, the year after the party was wiped out with no Tory MPs returned from Scotland in the 1997 general election. He headed the party for seven years but quit as leader amid controversy about his taxi expenses.

As well as a son from his first marriage, Mr McLetchie had two stepchildren with his second wife, Sheila, and four grandchildren.

He was involved with the Scottish Conservatives since he was a teenager in 1968 and his death came just two months after he received a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said: "The tributes paid to David at today's service were wonderfully fitting.

"Warm, funny and life affirming, they captured the big figure David was in politics as well as in life."

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