MP Gwyneth Dunwoody dies

LONDON Fri Apr 18, 2008 11:00am BST

1 of 3. Gwyneth Dunwoody in an undated photo. Labour's longest serving woman MP, who had a reputation for fierce independence, has died.

Credit: Reuters/Handout

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LONDON (Reuters) - Labour's longest serving woman MP, Gwyneth Dunwoody, who had a reputation for fierce independence, has died.

Her son David Dunwoody said his mother passed away on Thursday evening after being admitted to hospital last week with an undisclosed illness. She was 77.

"She was a woman who stood up and said what she believed was true and defended those who don't have many people to defend them," he told the BBC.

Gordon Brown, who is currently on a three-day tour of the U.S, said: "She was always her own person. She was always fiercely independent. She was politics at its best -- a great parliamentarian.

"(She was) a great expert on transport and I think she will be sadly missed in all parts of the House of Commons. For her constituents in Crewe she was a dedicated, committed member of parliament who would do everything for them."

Dunwoody was first elected MP for Exeter in 1966 and had been MP for Crewe and Nantwich since 1983. Her death will trigger a by-election in the safe Labour seat.

Veteran left-wing politician Tony Benn said Dunwoody was a very distinguished member of parliament who was always listened to with great respect.

During her long parliamentary career, Dunwoody served as chairman of several committees and took special interest in transport, the National Health Service and the arts. She was life president of the Labour Friends of Israel group.

She leaves a daughter, two sons and 10 grandchildren.

(Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Steve Addison)