Scotland politics

Tributes to former MSP Trish Godman

Trish Godman Image copyright Scottish Labour

The former MSP Trish Godman has died at the age of 79, Scottish Labour has announced.

Ms Godman was MSP for West Renfrewshire from 1999 until she retired in 2011.

The 79-year-old was also deputy presiding officer for eight years.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard offered his condolences and described Ms Godman as "determined and principled" and a "great fighter for her constituents and for the Labour Party".

Ken Macintosh MSP, presiding officer of the Scottish Parliament, said: "Trish's many friends across the parliament will be saddened to hear this news. She was one of the original '99ers and with a ready smile and a gentle manner, she was well liked, not only as a constituency MSP, but by politicians from all parties.

"Her election not once, but twice as one of the parliament's deputy presiding officer's was testimony to the regard and affection in which she was held. I know that staff and elected representatives at the Scottish Parliament would want to send her family our deepest sympathy at this sad time."

Former Renfrewshire South MSP Hugh Henry, and Finance Secretary Derek Mackay, who is currently MSP for Renfrewshire North and West, also tweeted tributes to her.

Ms Godman entered the first session of the new Scottish Parliament in 1999 as the MSP for West Renfrewshire after a career working with people suffering from drug and alcohol problems in the east of Glasgow.

Her passion for helping those from tougher backgrounds translated into her time as an MSP, where she argued for changes to laws on prostitution, while going head-to-head with the late independent MSP Margo MacDonald, who tried to introduce legislation to establish prostitute tolerance zones. Ms Godman instead advocated the criminalisation of people buying sex.

Speaking out

Ms Godman's profile at Holyrood was boosted after eight years serving as a deputy presiding officer, and she was never afraid of stepping outside party lines when it came to issues in her constituency.

In 2005, she was outspoken in her criticism of the Labour-LibDem led Scottish Executive when Poland's Remontowa ship yard was named the preferred bidder for a fisheries protection vessel, ahead of Port Glasgow's Ferguson yard.

Ms Godman said at the time: "I am deeply angry and bitterly disappointed over the weak-kneed betrayal of the men and women at Ferguson by the Scottish Executive.

Ms Godman has also been forced to cope with personal issues, after her son, Gary Mulgrew - one of the so-called "Nat West Three", admitted fraud charges in the US in 2007, in a case relating to the Enron scandal.

She said at the time that he was the victim of an "unjust extradition treaty which breaches human rights".

In 2012, two men were jailed for sending suspect packages to Ms Godman, Celtic manager Neil Lennon and the late Paul McBride QC..

Jurors heard how a package which tested positive for explosives was delivered to Ms Godman's constituency office in Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire, caused the evacuation of the building.

Before the incident, Ms Godman had worn a Celtic top to the Scottish Parliament as a "dare for charity" on the final day before Holyrood was due to dissolve, pending the elections.