'Delighted' Charles Kennedy and wife expecting their first baby

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Indy Politics

The Liberal Democrat leader, Charles Kennedy, and his wife, Sarah, announced yesterday that they are expecting their first child.

The Liberal Democrat leader, Charles Kennedy, and his wife, Sarah, announced yesterday that they are expecting their first child.

The couple said they were "absolutely delighted" about the baby, which is due in April. In a statement Mr Kennedy, 44, said: "We have made no secret of the fact that we wanted a family and we are very happy to be able to make this announcement." No other details were released.

Mrs Kennedy's parents, Peter and Jill Gurling, said: "We share Sarah and Charles's great happiness over this wonderful news." Mr Kennedy's parents, Ian and Mary Kennedy, said: "We know how much this means to both of them ­ it is a marvellous time."

The couple were married in July 2002 in the Crypt Chapel of the House of Commons. Mrs Kennedy, 34, is widely credited with helping her husband shed the chat-show politician image of earlier years and develop greater gravitas as party leader.

After taking over the leadership in 1999, Mr Kennedy faced the daunting task of building on the achievements of his predecessor, Paddy Ashdown, who, in his 11 years at the helm, transformed the party from a political also-ran to a movement with 46 MPs at Westminster and a huge increase in local authority representation nationwide. He led the 2001 general election campaign with a verve and skill which confounded those who had criticised him as a political lightweight, and surpassed his predecessor's achievement by winning 52 Liberal Democrat seats at Westminster. Following a defection and two by-election successes, the party now has 55 seats.

Mr Kennedy's determination to take a more independent and critical line towards the Government than his predecessor crystallised during 2002-03, when he was the only one of the three main party leaders to take an anti-war stance in the approach to conflict in Iraq.

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