WESTMINSTER paid its respects to ex-Hyndburn MP Ken Hargreaves this week with a special memorial service in the House of Commons crypt.

Almost 200 people packed the 600-year-old chapel to hear Speaker John Bercow read the lesson as many of the great and good of politics gathered to remember the 73-year-old, left, who died after a long illness in June.

His long-term friend and former Tory minister Ann Widdecombe, who he helped to convert to his Roman Catholic faith, gave the address to a congregation packed with MPs and former MPs including his Labour successor in Hyndburn, Greg Pope, and current holder of the job, Graham Jones.

Another close political friend, Tory MP David Amess, hosted a reception after the service in the grand Commonwealth Parliamentary Association rooms off Westminster Hall.

As well as the Westminster contingent, more than 70 friends and political colleagues from Accrington and Oswaldtwistle made their way to London to attend.

Ex-Tory leader of Hyndburn council Peter Britcliffe said: “It was a very moving occasion.

“Ken would have been delighted to see so many people gathered together in the beautiful St Stephen’s Crypt to remember him and his political career.

“All parties were represented to pay their respects.

“It was a splendid occasion worthy of the man himself.”

Mr Pope said: “It was a privilege to be able to attend the memorial mass in the crypt of the House of Commons for Ken.

“It was packed, as you would expect, for the service to remember such a highly-respected and well-liked man.

“It was also really nice to see such a large contingent of people down from Hyndburn and to be able to chat to and catch up with old friends and colleagues.”

Also at the service were foreign office minister Alistair Burt, who shared an office with Mr Hargreaves when they first arrived at Parliament, and former Liberal Democrat education minister Sarah Teather.

Mr Hargreaves was MP for Hyndburn from 1983 to 1992 and was diagnosed with cancer in 1983.

He died at the East Lancashire Hospice.

He was a former Mayor of the borough, a tireless charity worker, a community champion and pro-life campaigner.

In July a local memorial service was held in July at St Mary’s RC Church in Oswaldtwistle where he served as a member of the clergy for 62 years.