FIRST Minister Alex Salmond has paid tribute to former SNP leadership candidate Stephen Maxwell who has died aged 69.
MR Maxwell was a key ally of Mr Salmond when the men were both expelled from the SNP in the early 1980s for their activities within the the 79 group - a left wing grouping within the party.
The First Minister said that Mr Maxwell, who unsuccessfully stood as party leader in 1980, as “a key figure in the development of the modern SNP” both before his expulsion and after he was readmitted to the party.
MR Salmond said that Maxwell, who was also a former associate director of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, was a “great loss to Scotland.”
He said: “I was greatly saddened to learn of the death of Stephen Maxwell, and send my deepest condolences to his family and friends.
“During Stephen’s long career he made an immense contribution to the national movement in Scotland, and was a key figure in the development of the modern SNP.
“But Stephen’s loss will be felt much more widely than just politics. Over a quarter of a century with the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Stephen was a tireless campaigner for the third sector in Scotland, helping it through the difficult days of the 1980s and establishing it as a major force in post-devolution Scotland.
“Above all, I will remember Stephen’s courtesy to all, his extraordinary intellect combined with gentle persuasiveness, and his lifelong service to others.”