Former British sports minister would buried in London

The funeral of a former British lawmaker and sports minister who died in the United States, took place in London Saturday. Tony Banks, 62, who took the title Lord Stratford last year, was on vacation on Sanibel Island, in Florida, when he suffered a stroke two weeks ago. A former member of parliament based in east London, Banks was known both for his passion for sport and for his devotion to animal rights causes. His family have said the London funeral would be a private affair.

Known for his sharp tongue and upbeat personality, Banks was a well known figure in British politics. He retired from parliament at the general election in May last year. He was appointed sports minister by Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1997 but resigned after two years to campaign for England's unsuccessful bid to host the soccer World Cup finals.

As a passionate supporter of animal rights, Banks fought vigorously for a number of causes, including a leading role in the successful bid to ban fox hunting in Britain. After his death his widow, Sally, launched a campaign in his memory to stop the killing of baby seals in the Canadian Arctic, a practice he had fought against.

"This is an issue that Tony cared passionately about, and so do I," she said. "We were working on plans for a new campaign to halt this barbaric trade. Tony's death is a terrible loss to me and to the campaign. I am determined to try to fill the gap", reports the AP. N.U.