TONY Blair's father Leo has died, the former prime minister's office has announced.

Mr Blair snr was born in Filey, North Yorkshire, in August 1923, and brought up in Glasgow.

He was a criminal law lecturer at Durham University during the 1950s.

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A former student told The Northern Echo: "He was great fun. A very dramatic lecturer who'd jump on the desks and wave his hands about, a real showman".

He was also a long-time Conservative and, at one time, had political ambitions of his own before they were cut short when he suffered a stroke so severe it left him unable to speak for three years. His second son Tony was only 11 at the time.

In 1995 he approached the local Labour Party in Shrewsbury, where he lived, and asked to join.

Tony Blair was unable to attend a local Labour Party dinner last night in Newton Aycliffe which was to celebrate the 30th anniversary of his Sedgefield constituency and the coming of the Hitachi time-building factory to the Amazon Park site.

In a statement, Mr Blair's office said: "Mr Blair's father, Leo, sadly passed away today. It was peaceful and Mr Blair was with him."