Former MP Jimmy Wray has died following a long illness, Labour has announced.

Mr Wray, who died this morning, served as MP for Glasgow Provan and Glasgow Baillieston for 18 years.

He stepped down in 2005 after a spell of ill health. He is survived by his four children.

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont said: "I remember Jimmy fondly for his personal kindness and generosity but most of all for his love of the Labour Party, which he served with distinction for a great many years.

"Even after he stepped down as an MP, he continued to support the party in any way he could.

"Jimmy was a formidable man, growing up in the Gorbals and known to be a good boxer. He never forgot his roots and used his experience to fight hard for those who needed someone to speak up for them."

First Minister Alex Salmond also paid tribute to Mr Wray.

He said: "My condolences go to Jimmy's family. He was a fixture in Glasgow politics for many years both at council and Parliamentary level.

"I was a Parliamentary colleague of Jimmy's for a number of years and always admired the forthright way he spoke out for his constituents."

Mr Wray's age is a matter of dispute in death as in life.

Labour initially announced his age upon death as 75 but said that there was no readily available documentary evidence to support this.

Wikipedia listed his date of birth as April 28 1935 and April 28 1938 on the same page.

During a defamation case against the Mail on Sunday in February 2000, he caused a stir by declaring his age as 64 when his date of birth was listed as April 28 1938 in records at the time.

Dod's Parliamentary Companion 1995, the BBC Political Research Unit's Constituency Guide 1997 and Who's Who 1999 gave his date of birth as April 28 1938, according to news reports.

When questioned by reporters at the time he said the discrepancy was probably down to a "researcher's error" - an error that appears to have persisted to this day.

His age was given as 70 in August 2004 when he was deselected by Labour in Glasgow ahead of the forthcoming general election, which would have made him 78 at the time of his death.

Scotland's People records that a James Wray was born in 1935 while there is no record of a James Wray born in 1938.