THE funeral of former Sheffield Hallam Tory MP Sir Irvine Patnick was being held today – as tributes were paid by political compatriots.
The 83-year-old, who lived in Abbeydale and had represented the constituency between 1987 and 1997, had been battling illness for some time before his death, friends said.
His funeral had been due to take place at Colley Road Cemetery, Ecclesfield, today at noon.
Sir Irvine, former chief whip under John Major, recently apologised for repeating ‘inaccurate’ details of the Hillsborough tragedy which he was given by police.
September’s Independent Panel report confirmed him as one of the sources for a notorious story in The Sun newspaper that smeared Liverpool fans.
But fellow Conservatives and Labour figures paid tribute to his work for Sheffield.
Clive Betts, Labour MP for Sheffield South East, who was Sheffield Council leader when Sir Irvine was elected to Parliament, said: “What we should remember is the years of public service by Sir Irvine as a city and county councillor then MP to a city he loved.
“We had political disagreements, but he was very helpful when I was leader as a conduit between the council and ministers.”
John Cornwell, former Labour deputy leader of the old South Yorkshire Council on which Sir Irvine was a member throughout the authority’s 13 years, said: “He was Tory leader all those years and he was an enthusiastic opposition leader who never gave up – quite ebullient.”
Mr Cornwell, of Nether Edge, said: “Our paths later crossed at Yorkshire and Humberside Sports Council where he was chairman and I was vice chairman, so the roles were reversed. We became friends.”
Stuart Green, secretary of City Technical School Old Boys’ Association, of which Sir Irvine was a past president, said: “He was always a good supporter of ours.”
Alan Ryder, former deputy chairman of the Sheffield Hallam Conservatives, said: “He always did his best for Sheffield, his record over the years shows that.”
Anne Smith, former Dore Conservative councillor, added: “I’ve known Sir Irvine for more than 40 years and he was a very strong family man and friend to all those who knew him. He worked tremendously hard for the city.”