David McLetchie funeral: Hundreds pay respects

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

He died at St Columba’s Hospice in Edinburgh last Monday with his family by his side.

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

Picture: PA WirePicture: PA Wire
Picture: PA Wire

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

Former chancellor Alistair Darling, chair of the Better Together campaign to keep Scotland in the UK, and Foreign Secretary William Hague were also in the congregation.

The 700-capacity church was said to be full.

Mr McLetchie’s son, James, and former Holyrood presiding officer Alex Fergusson, who was a close friend of the MSP, were expected to pay tribute to him during the ceremony.

Many have paid tribute to David McLetchie since his death last week. Picture: Phil WilkinsonMany have paid tribute to David McLetchie since his death last week. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Many have paid tribute to David McLetchie since his death last week. Picture: Phil Wilkinson


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.

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.

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Prime Minister David Cameron paid tribute to him after his death, describing him as “one of Scottish politics’ most formidable intellects and finest debaters”.

‘Ferocious debater’

He said: “David has been an immense figure in Scottish politics and a towering strength to our party in Scotland. He will be sorely missed.”

Mr Salmond described Mr McLetchie as a “very considerable politician of the devolution era”, while Ms Davidson hailed him as a “ferocious debater” and said “his passing leaves a large hole in Scottish public life”.

The hearse carrying the coffin and several floral wreaths made its final journey to the church at walking pace with a funeral director leading the cortege along the road on foot.

The hymns Praise My Soul The King Of Heaven, The Lord Is My Shepherd and Lord Of All Hopefulness were due to be sung during the service led by Reverend Stewart McGregor.

The congregation was also expected to hear readings from Ecclesiastes and Matthew.

A collection for Cancer Research UK was being taken at the end of the service.