My first contact with Tony Banks was as he stood on a makeshift stage on Shepherds Bush green during a strike by BBC staff - he was the BECTU (or was it BETA or ETA back then???) representative in the House of Commoms and he was funny and clever and articulate and really down to earth.

I had a huge respect for him for that but the fact that he was an outspoken vegetarian and animal rights supporter made me appreciate him even more. I was a little disappointed when he descided to move up to the House of Lords because the Labour Party really needed people like him to keep them in check in the Commons and also because I'd hoped that he wouldn;t be a part of an outdated undemocratic institution like that.

But today is a time to pay respects to a rare politician and the man who crossed his fingers while pledging allegiance to the crown

BBC NEWS | Politics | Tributes paid to ex-MP Tony Banks