Tributes pour in for Labour MP Cairns

The late David Cairns MP

The late David Cairns MP

David Cairns MP, parliamentary chairman of the Labour Friends of Israel group, has died following a short illness. Mr Cairns, who was 44, was taken ill in March with pancreatitis. He died on Monday night.

The Inverclyde MP was in his second spell as chairman of the group. He previously held the role in 2004 before returning in October last year.

Jennifer Gerber, LFI director, said: "We are deeply saddened by David Cairns' tragic and untimely death. David was a bright, generous and extremely kind man, and an inspiration to all fortunate enough to have known him.

"LFI was extremely lucky to have enjoyed his generous and dedicated support as chair on two occasions, and will endeavour to ensure that the positive impact he had will be remembered and honoured."

Mr Cairns, a former Catholic priest, was first elected to Parliament in 2001, prompting a change in the law banning former priests from becoming MPs.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said: "David will be missed beyond measure as a former minister, as an MP, as a friend and a colleague by many people and my heart especially goes out to his partner Dermot and his family in Scotland.

"He brought a sensitive understanding of others and a ready wit to politics, and he never shied away from saying what he believed to be true. He was a good man."

Tributes were made this week by the Israeli ambassador, Ron Prosor, the Jewish Leadership Council and the Board of Deputies. Mr Prosor said: "David was a proud friend of the Israeli people, who stood staunchly by our side, never taking the easy way out. He often said his colleagues in Parliament would urge him to be a more 'critical friend' with the emphasis more on the 'critical.' David never saw the need to dilute his support."

Last updated: 2:39pm, May 12 2011