FRIENDS and family packed an Oxford pub to toast “a firm believer in justice” on what would have been his 81st birthday.

Tom Richardson was the former chief officer of Oxfordshire Community Health Council (CHC), leader of the Labour group on Oxfordshire County Council and industrial relations manager at Morris Motors in Cowley in the 1960s.

The popular and passionate figure, who died in September, was remembered on Saturday afternoon by dozens of people at one his favourite haunts, the Old Bookbinders in Jericho, Oxford.

He was living in Scotland at the time of his death to be closer to family, so many of his friends and former colleagues were unable to attend the funeral in Dundee.

A fan of the pub’s bangers and mash and real ale, Mr Richardson was known to have pints delivered to his door in Canal Street when he was unable to leave his home.

Mike Gerrard, a former colleague who continued his friendship with Mr Richardson after his retirement from the CHC, said: “He was a proper man, a man of great integrity.

“He was very much committed to what he was doing and that shone through to people.

“He was a very intense kind of person. Generally speaking he would give the appearance of relaxation, but he was always working and he didn’t ever really give up working.”

Away from politics and work, Mr Gerrard said his friend “loved nothing more than to go and watch Oxford United on a Saturday afternoon”.

Mr Richardson’s daughter Jane said: “The turnout has been great and it shows just how very popular he was.

“He well loved throughout and well respected even by those in the opposition.”

Born in Hampstead, London, on January 22, 1930, Mr Richardson’s association with Oxfordshire began in 1960 when he joined the county’s probation service.

He joined Morris Motors at Cowley as a welfare officer in 1965 and became industrial relations manager of the British Motor Corporation the following year.

In the mid-1970s he was appointed assistant secretary of the newly formed Oxfordshire Community Health Council.

Mr Richardson first served as a Labour city councillor in the mid-1960s, representing Headington and Marston.

He was elected in 1981 to the county council as member for New Marston, serving the division for 20 years until he stood down, serving as Labour group leader for some of that time.

Christopher Lewis, a fellow colleague at the community health council and now the Dean of Christ Church, said Mr Richardson championed the causes of people with learning difficulties in the 1970s and 1980s, when such an attitude was less common.

He said: “He was great. He was amazingly enthusiastic and a firm believer in justice.”

Another CHC colleague, Christine Hogg, said: “He had an anger about him that was very constructive – he channelled it into trying to make a difference. He had that lovely constructive anger that is so powerful if you want to change things.”

Labour MP for Oxford East, Andrew Smith, described Mr Richardson as a good friend who was dedicated to fighting poverty and who “punctured pomposity”.