A FORMER East Lancashire MP has received a prestigious Papal Knighthood.

Former Hyndburn MP Ken Hargreaves MBE has been awarded a Knighthood of St Gregory by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI in recognition of his life long campaigning for the pro-life cause and service to his community.

The 73-year-old, who is terminally ill with cancer, had the honour conferred upon him at his East Lancashire Hospice bedside by his parish priest Father John Daly of St Mary's, Oswaldtwistle.

The intimate ceremony on Saturday, which included close friends, family and parishioners included Christian campaigner Lord David Alton of Liverpool.

The former Hyndburn MP, who served as the Conservative MP for Hyndburn from 1983 to 1992 said he was ‘deeply moved’. He said: “It’s a special blessing from Pope Benedict, not for me, but for all the men and women who throughout my life, especially through their support of Right to Life and Life, have refused to accept the killing of the unborn and who have opposed abortion and euthanasia.”

His friend and former Parliamentary colleague, Ann Widdecombe, said: “This is excellent news. It is only right that his unstinting support for the cause should be recognised in this way.”

Catholic Peer, Lord David Alton added: “Ken has been a real friend to me personally, to the pro-life cause as a whole, and to all those who turned to him over many years for support, advice or assistance.

“The award is thoroughly deserved, and visiting him I was privileged to be one of the first to call him ‘Sir Ken!’”