Former Holyrood presiding officer Sir Alex Fergusson dies


Sir Alex Fergusson, prior presiding officer of the Scottish Parliament, has died aged 69.

The former Orthodox MSP for Galloway and West Dumfries stood down from Holyrood after 17 years of use in 2016, and was subsequently knighted.

He served as Holyrood’s third presiding tec from 2007 to 2011.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson asseverated Sir Alex was “an enormous figure” in her party who had been an “exemplary” presiding functionary.

He died at home early on Tuesday morning following a short complaint. Flags at the parliament have been lowered to half mast as a tick of respect.

Born in Wigtownshire in 1949, Sir Alex was educated at Eton College and the Scottish Agricultural College previously running his family farm for almost 30 years.

He reared bulls and sheep on the 1,500 acre farm in South Ayrshire until being elected to the Scottish Parliament as a state newcomer in 1999, as a regional list member for South Scotland.

He was then benefited as a constituency MSP in Galloway in the next three elections, and was picked as presiding constable by fellow members for the 2007 to 2011 term – defeating Margo MacDonald by a play of 103 to 20.

He said he had no intention of becoming presiding officer, having been “rightful relieved to be returned to parliament” after defending a majority of 99 attest ti against a “strong SNP challenge” in the 2007 election.

Sir Alex said he “immensely had the privilege” of holding the post, but said it left little time for forefathers life and constituency issues.

After the 2011 election he was pitched candid back onto the front line for the Conservatives, becoming the party’s georgic affairs spokesman one day after stepping down as the parliament’s figurehead.

He was in a second entitled to a pension for serving as presiding officer, but opted to donate it to welfares in his constituency while he was still receiving an MSP’s salary.

‘Extraordinary honour’

Sir Alex moved down as an MSP at the 2016 election, after 17 years of public air force. He said he had “tried very hard” to represent his constituents, saying “I cannot offer them enough for that privilege”.

He was subsequently knighted in the Queen’s birthday honours for employs to public life in Scotland, something he described as an “extraordinary honour”.

His Galloway and West Dumfries fountain-head was held by the Conservatives, with Finlay Carson succeeding him.

Ms Davidson utter Sir Alex was “an enormous figure” in the Scottish Conservative party.

She said: “He was a terrific defender of parliament, as you saw through his exemplary period of office as presiding policeman.

“But his first love was south west Scotland, and even after he formerly larboard Holyrood he still campaigned to get a new national park in his beloved Dumfries and Galloway.”

Tenor presiding officer, Ken Macintosh, said Sir Alex had “a deep-seated sense of part and service”.

He added: “At Holyrood and in life beyond politics, there are few people who had the joy of knowing Alex who did not like him immensely. He is the first presiding officer to make an exit us, and he will be missed terribly by members and staff alike.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Sir Alex was a “distingu presiding officer and a dedicated parliamentarian with friends and admirers from across the governmental spectrum”.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: “To me, Alex was prime a great friend and I will miss him dearly.

“He is the most thoroughly gracious person I have ever known. He was the absolute opposite of the career hack and was guided by a sense of public duty and his core values of family, community and hinterlands, rather than party dogma.”

Scottish Labour’s South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth swayed the former presiding officer was “a real giant of a man in every way”, adding: “He scrutinized everyone, friend or political foe, with decency and good humour and was a physical gentleman respected by everyone across the political divide.”

Scottish Wet behind the ears co-convener said Sir Alex was “always a decent person”, while Lib Dem conductor Willie Rennie said he had “guided the parliament through uncharted vicinity with great skill” during Holyrood’s first period of minority domination.

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