TRIBUTES were paid last night after former Labour MSP and Scottish Parliament deputy presiding officer Trish Godman died at the age of 79.

Godman represented West Renfrewshire from 1999 until her retirement in 2011, and was deputy presiding officer for eight years.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Godman was a “towering figure” of the early years of the Scottish Parliament, and former presiding officer Sir George Reid described his deputy as a “strong, stylish woman of principle”.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard tweeted: “On behalf of the Scottish Labour Party, I extend our condolences on the sad news of the death of former Scottish Labour MSP and deputy presiding officer Trish Godman.

“Determined and principled, Trish was a great fighter for her constituents and for the Labour Party. Our thoughts are with her family during this sad time.”

West Scotland MSP Neil Bibby tweeted: “Saddened to learn of Trish Godman’s passing. A major figure in the West Renfrewshire Labour Party for many years. The first candidate I ever voted for – she was a strong, principled and caring woman and a great source of support to myself and many others.”

Former Labour MSPs Frank McAveety and Hugh Henry also paid tribute. McAveety said Godman was “the best of Labour” and never lost her commitment to ensuring opportunity for all, while Henry described her as a “principled woman with a huge sense of humour”.

He added: “I knew her as a colleague, friend and comrade. A tremendous constituency MSP she made her mark on the Scottish Parliament and retained her values and her passionate belief in equality and justice.”

Holyrood’s current Presiding Officer, Ken Macintosh, said: “She was one of the original ‘99ers and with a ready smile and a gentle manner, she was well liked, not only as a constituency MSP, but by politicians from all parties.

“Her election not once, but twice as one of the Parliament’s deputy presiding officers was testimony to the regard and affection in which she was held.

“I know that staff and elected representatives at the Scottish Parliament would want to send her family our deepest sympathy at this sad time.”

The SNP’s John Swinney said: “Very sorry to hear of the passing of Trish Godman – a fine parliamentarian who served her constituents, her party and our Parliament with devotion and distinction.”

Scottish Tory MSP Jackson Carlaw said: “Trish Godman while deputy presiding officer was a politician who led with determination on key issues.”