SCOTLAND'S politicians have paid tribute to the former LibDem MSP John Farquhar Munro, who died at his home yesterday aged 79.

Describing him as a "champion for the Highlands", Holyrood leaders were among the first to pay their respects.

Mr Munro was elected to the Scottish Parliament in 1999 to represent the seat of Ross, Skye & Inverness West and stepped down in 2011. He took a leading role on issues such as the ending of tolls on the Skye Bridge, land reform, Gaelic and crofting.

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Before becoming an MSP he was a local councillor in Lochalsh for 33 years.

Willie Rennie MSP, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, said: "John was a canny Highlander who calmly asserted his place in the political world. His roots in crofting and the west Highlands gave the strength and depth to endure the trials of politics. His character and personality attracted friends from across politics."

Mr Rennie added: "Our thoughts are with his wife Celia, who was a tower of strength in all he did, and all his friends and family."

First Minister Alex Salmond said: "John Farquhar was an outstanding champion for the Highlands and leaves an impressive legacy on issues such as land reform, crofting and Gaelic.

"He was always his own man, campaigning beyond party loyalties, which is one reason he will be ­remembered with respect and affection right across the political spectrum."

Conservative MP Murdo Fraser said the country had lost a "great Highland representative and a true gent", while party leader Ruth Davidson said he was a "committed" MSP. Inverness councillor Richard Laird described him as a "fine example of the Highland Liberal tradition".

SNP MP Angus MacNeil said: "Sad to hear about Highland Gent John Farquhar Munro. I never left his company without a smile and having a good laugh."