Former MP Tom Clarke receives papal knighthood

Former MP Tom Clarke

Former MP Tom Clarke

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A Labour politician who represented his community at Westminster for over 30 years has received one of the Catholic church’s highest honours.

Tom Clarke (75), who was an MP from 1982 until 2015, when he lost the Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill constituency to the SNP, has been awarded a papal knighthood by Pope Francis.

During his career he served as Minister for Film and Tourism under Prime Minister Tony Blair.

He also held the position of Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland under Labour leader John Smith.

Mr Clarke said he was “truly humbled and privileged” to receive the honour of Knight of St Gregory the Great.

He said: “Coming from Pope Francis, a man of great humanity and a staunch advocate of human rights, adds to my delight.

“I regard this as recognition of people not just of my own faith but of the many people of all traditions I have had the honour to serve.”

Mr Clarke will receive the award from Bishop Toal, of the Diocese of Motherwell, at a Special Mass in St Augustine’s Coatbridge on September 1 and is expected to have an audience with the Pope at a later date.

Bishop Toal said “Tom served as a Member of Parliament from 1982 until 2015.

“Throughout all of that time Tom Clarke sought inspiration from his devout Catholic faith in determining how he should vote on a wide variety of parliamentary issues especially his work on disability rights, overseas development and the pro life cause.”