Peter McCann, former lord provost of Glasgow and former Disabled Scot of the Year, was a doughty champion of the disabled, a successful lawyer and a notable, if controversial, civic leader. He died on Saturday at the age of 79.

Educated at St Mungo's Academy and the University of Glasgow, he was elected to the old Corporation of Glasgow in 1961, and quickly made his mark as a combative representative of his electors.

In 1971, he chaired the McCann Committee that

was looking into secondary education for the physically handicapped.

However, the purple patch in his civic career came with local government reorganisation in 1975 when he was elected lord provost of the new City of Glasgow District Council, while many of former corporation colleagues went off to serve on the newly created Strathclyde Regional Council.

Almost immediately, he was embroiled in controversy when word filtered through that the regional council, then accommodated in a minimalist office block in Glasgow's Cadogan Street, was coveting the city chambers as a headquarters. The only problem was that the magnificent Italian Renaissance-style city chambers in George Square was occupied by the new district council. Peter McCann was enraged. He fumed: ''The regional council is the cuckoo in the nest.''

Scarcely concealing his contempt for the new local government set-up, he made a

withering comparison between Glasgow's 800-year tradition and the regional council, which he described as ''a mere

statutory identity''. Bemused regional council leaders later claimed the move had never been a serious option.

More controversy erupted after Peter McCann visited Saudi Arabia in 1975, where he was able to establish a remarkable tranche of contacts that were of great benefit to Glasgow's business community.

Before leaving Saudi Arabia, his hosts had presented him with a ceremonial sword in a silver scabbard, which he presented to the city. But the following year, the Prince of Mecca presented him with the Sword of Saudi Arabia in a golden scabbard. Peter McCann regarded this second gift as personal to him. Not so the Conservative opposition at the city chambers, who demanded that he hand the second sword over to the city. Deeply offended, Peter McCann raised an action for defamation in the sheriff court against one of the leading Conservative councillors - and won, the case being concluded in 1978 after he had left office.

He was awarded modest damages of (pounds) 200 plus costs. The latter was said to be many thousands of pounds. Peter McCann joked afterwards: ''The Tories had to organise a few bun fights to pay off the costs. That'll teach them to keep their mouths shut.'' The (pounds) 200 he donated to Eastpark Children's Home.

Subsequently, the golden sword was placed in the care of Kelvingrove Art Gallery on long-term loan. Seven years later, both the gold and silver swords were stolen from Kelvingrove, but were later recovered through the good offices of a civic-minded collector.

Ever keen to challenge the lord provost over trips abroad, the Conservatives often found themselves at the receiving end of a withering response. One senior Conservative, Maurice Toshner, demanded a close look at council spending - ''everything from paper clips to lord provost's trips''. But Peter McCann's response was: ''Sometimes I feel like Gulliver on his travels when he was beset by so many little men.''

Just before leaving office in 1977, he made an exhausting visit to China, laying the foundations for later business exchanges between Glasgow and the People's Republic, bumping into Celtic fans in Budapest during a stop on the way back to Glasgow.

Although disappointed at not being appointed a sheriff, Peter McCann carried on a successful legal practice, often representing trade unions in court and providing legal advice to high profile local causes, such as the campaign against the housing stock transfer, and the campaign against the closure of Govanhill Pool. He was also active in opposing the fluoridation of the public water supply.

Throughout his life he battled strenuously for the rights of the disabled, especially in the matter of access to public buildings.

He and his late wife, Maura, were fiercely opposed to abortion and were involved in a number of bitter disputes

with columnists in national newspapers.

Early in his term of office, he had threatened to resign as president of the Scottish Spina Bifida association after it had asked David Steel, now Sir David, to be its parliamentary spokesman. He had objected due to David Steel's sponsorship of the Abortion Act.

Peter McCann was a man who was passionate about the welfare of his city, and passionate about his Catholic faith.

He is survived by his son, Peter.

Peter Toland McAree McCann, CBE, JP, DL, former lord provost of Glasgow; born August 2, 1924, died January 26, 2004.