'Take a lesson from my book': David Potts, Private Eye 'Socialite of the Year' and councillor who laid bare his alcoholism, dies aged 30

Council leader pays tribute to 'immensely talented and highly educated young man'

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The Independent Online

A "colourful but often controversial" local politician has died aged 30, after a battle with alcoholism.

David Potts represented UKIP - having left the Tory party - on South Tyneside council. Only two months ago he said he feared his addiction would kill him.

Potts was no stranger to controversy, having called South Shields Labour MP David Miliband a "w***er", being cautioned by police for leaking confidential information to a local newspaper, and tweeting that the region had a "poxy backwater council."

Private Eye named him Socialite of the Year for 2012 after he tweeted an apparent invitation for people to join in a sex party.

Council leader Iain Malcolm said: "David Potts was an immensely talented and highly educated young man whose life took a tragic turn as he battled his alcohol addiction.

"As a young councillor he was robust and challenging in debate and enjoyed the cut and thrust of political life. He had a wicked and sometimes mischievous sense of humour which I shall miss.

"A colourful but often controversial figure, his illness was without doubt the cause of some of his more unconventional behaviour for which he was always remorseful and regretful.

"I visited David in hospital where he was always wanting to catch up on the news from South Tyneside.

"He was devoted to his family and the thoughts and prayers of the council are with his parents and family at this sad time."

Speaking from his hospital bed in February, Potts said: "I have to stop drinking. If I don't I will die, it's as simple as that.

"I may die anyway, it may already be too late, but I'll definitely die if I don't stop. I have no choice."

In an interview he said he could sometimes consume up to 70 units of alcohol a day, downing a bottle of vodka before going to work as a financial investor.

He would sip from a hip flask during the morning, then have up to eight gin and tonics at lunchtime.

Mr Potts blamed only himself, saying in February: "I don't feel sorry for myself, I've brought this on myself. I am paying now for my addiction to alcohol.

"I'd warn other young people to take a lesson from my book. Alcoholism is ugly and pernicious."

Mr Potts became a Tory councillor for Cleadon and East Boldon aged just 21.

After falling out with the party he joined Ukip last year.

Despite being very ill, he briefly attended a council meeting last month to prevent him being kicked off the council.