TRIBUTES have been paid to an influential safety inspector who was instrumental in seatbelt legislation and the inquiry into the King’s Cross fire disaster.

Richard Warburton, 85, passed away in his sleep on Tuesday, just days after the death of his youngest son, Nicholas, 61, on February 20.

Mr Warburton’s wife Lois, and son, Ian, said yesterday that it had been a shocking and stressful time for them and they were deeply saddened to have lost a ‘wonderful’ father and husband.

Mr Warburton was awarded an OBE in 1987 for his outstanding achievements in the field of health and safety.

He worked as a factory inspector after leaving Birmingham with a first class degree in geography and set up a pioneering system of accident prevention.

Mr Warburton’s professional interests always revolved around accident prevention and health and safety and he was director general at RoSPA, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents up until his retirement.

RoSPA campaigned for legislation that would require all drivers to wear seatbelts for 21 years before it became law in 1983. The legislation saved 500 lives in its first year of enforcement.

Mr Warburton was also involved in the report into the underground fire in King’s Cross station that killed 31 people in 1987.

Mr Warburton’s eldest son, Ian said: “It was very intensive, very harrowing work, but a lot of his suggestions were implemented and have really improved the safety of the underground. It’s a fantastic legacy to leave behind.”

The father-of-two was born in Wigan in 1928 and met his beloved wife in a park when they were both teenagers. The couple married in 1952 and moved to Blackburn with their two sons in 1964.

He leaves behind five grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.

Ian said: “He was a brilliant father and taught me everything that I know.

Mrs Warburton said: “He was a wonderful story teller. He was a wonderful husband and a brilliant companion.”

Mr Warburton’s funeral will be held at Pleasington Crematorium on Monday, March 3 at 11.30am.