Charles Kennedy death: Family's statement on former Lib Dem leader's 'battle with alcoholism'

A post-mortem found the late MP's death was caused by a 'major haemorrhage' as a result of his drinking

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The Independent Online

Charles Kennedy's family have said the former Liberal Democrat leader's death was caused by a "major haemorrhage" as a result of his excessive drinking.

A statement released today said he had sought help over the years but alcoholism was "ultimately an illness Charles could not conquer".

Mr Kennedy, who lost the Ross, Skye and Lochaber seat he had held since 1983 in the general election, died aged 55 on Monday.

He was found dead at his home in Fort William by his partner, Carole Macdonald, and police said there were no suspicious circumstances.

The late MP's ex-wife Sarah and his 10-year-old son Donald watched as David Cameron and other politicians paid emotional tributes in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

The Prime Minister described Mr Kennedy as "an extraordinary talent" and "a man of great principle", documenting his successful leadership of the Liberal Democrats over a six-year period where they enjoyed their best ever electoral results.

Nick Clegg said his friend would have "wanted to be remembered as a kind and loving father, brother and son first; and an accomplished politician second".

Here is the full statement issued by Mr Kennedy's family:

"Charles' family would first like to thank the public and politicians who have been so warm in their tributes to him and so sincere in their concern for us.

"We have been touched beyond measure by the outpouring of warmth for a man whose loss we will feel deeply forever.

'His leadership was immensely popular and led to a dramatic general election result in 2001'

"The pain we feel has been at least eased somewhat by the reaction of so many people across Scotland, the UK and beyond, and by the affection expressed by politicians across the spectrum.

"It has become all too apparent to us how much Charles meant to so many people and how many lives he touched.

"We were grateful that his young son Donald was able to attend the Commons session where so many MPs spoke so warmly about his father.

"The words and images of that day, and of so many other tributes, will be there for us to look back on with pride in Charles, and Donald will always know what a special father he had.

"We would also like to thank all the public authorities and emergency services who have dealt with the aftermath of Charles' death with such courtesy, kindness and efficiency.

Charles Kennedy unveiling a Lib Dem campaign poster ahead of the 2005 general election

"We have now been informed by the office of the Procurator Fiscal of the findings of the post-mortem.

"Charles' death was caused by a major haemorrhage and the report makes clear this was a consequence of his battle with alcoholism.

"We are grateful to the many friends and also medical experts who sought to help down the years but ultimately this was an illness Charles could not conquer despite all the efforts he and others made.

"We can now proceed to make arrangements for his funeral and we will make an announcement on the details in due course."

Additional reporting by PA