Flags at the Scottish Parliament will fly at half-mast as a mark of respect for former Presiding Officer Sir Alex Fergusson, it has been announced.
Sir Alex, who died early this morning, served as Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament from 2007 until 2011.
Paying tribute to his predecessor, Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh MSP said:
“Alex never sought the position of Presiding Officer. His duty, as he saw it, was to the people of Galloway and Upper Nithsdale who had just elected him to Parliament for a second time.
“With the parties finely balanced and a minority government forming, colleagues turned to Alex to take the chair as devolution entered uncharted territory.
“Self-effacing as ever, he had to be persuaded, but he relented and accepted the job through a deep-seated sense of duty and service.
“He was the first Presiding Officer to preside during a minority government and the unique challenges this presented to Parliament. He did so with good humour, no shortage of skill and a fundamental decency that was recognised by Members from every party across the chamber.
“At Holyrood and in life beyond politics, there are few people who had the pleasure of knowing Alex who did not like him immensely.
“He is the first Presiding Officer to leave us, and he will be missed terribly by Members and staff alike.”
Flags at Holyrood will be lowered today as a mark of respect to the former Presiding Officer and again on the day of his funeral to be announced.
A book of condolence will open shortly at Parliament for Members, staff and visitors to sign.
Alex Fergusson served as an MSP for four consecutive terms, from 1999 until 2016. He represented the South of Scotland, Galloway and Upper Nithsdale, and Galloway and West Dumfries respectively.
He was the third Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, from 2007 to 2011.