Family and colleagues have paid tribute to former Merton councillor who was honoured by the Queen for his staunch commitment to improving human rights.

Mohammed Abdul Karim, who served as a Labour councillor for Abbey ward between 1998 and 2002, died aged 76 after a brief spell of illness at St George’s Hospital on August 19.

About 100 attended a funeral at Garth Road cemetery, on August 23, for the activist, who lived in Quicks Road, Wimbledon, after settling in London in 1961 from his native Bangaldesh.

He was a co-founder of the Ethnic Minority Centre (EMC), based in Vestry Hall, Mitcham, and received an MBE in 1996 for services to the community.

His son, Faz Karim, said: “He had very strong values and he was a very principled man who believed in justice and equity for all people.

“He spent a long time devoted to working as a community leader and we have been really touched by the number of people who have given their condolences to us.”

The current chairman of the EMC, Tony Sandiford, added: “Mr Karim was a strong advocate in the rights of others and always answered the call to serve his community.

“He has made great contribution to the Ethnic Minority Centre. We collectively extend our condolences to his family in their time of mourning.”

Mr Karim had left the Labour party after becoming disillusioned during the MPs expenses scandal, and stood as a Liberal Democrat in Abbey in 2010, before leaving the Lib Dems following its forming a coalition Government with the Conservatives.

He leaves a wife, two sons, two daughters and grandchildren.