East Ham MP Stephen Timms has spoken of his "shock and dismay" over the death at the weekend of his former parliamentary neighbour, Tony Banks.

"It is going to be very hard to get used to the idea of Newham - and of Parliament - without Tony," he said.

"Tony achieved a unique degree of popularity in Newham, as anyone who ever walked down the street with him in Stratford very quickly found out. Everybody knew him - even those who had not met him before knew him from TV, and regarded him as a friend. He grew up in south London, but moved to Newham on becoming the MP in 1983. Previously, none of the three MPs actually lived in Newham, and Tony's decision was very popular. He continued to live in Newham after entering the House of Lords and - from being mugged at Forest Gate station, finding out that the Channel Tunnel Rail Link tunnel would pass underneath his house, or celebrating the decision to bring the Olympic Games to Stratford - it meant that everyone regarded him as one of us. As an instantly recognised campaigner he was a big help when I was elected at the by-election in 1994. Local affection for him will endure for a very long time indeed."

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AuthorStephen Timms