Former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy dies aged 55

Tributes have flooded in for Mr Kennedy

Jon Stone
Tuesday 02 June 2015 10:09
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Former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy has died aged 55, his family has said.

Mr Kennedy passed away suddenly at his home in Fort William.

Police Scotland said the death is not being treated as suspicious. A post-mortem is set to be carried out.

A statement released on behalf of his family said: “It is with great sadness, and an enormous sense of shock, that we announce the death of Charles Kennedy.

“Charles died at home in Fort William yesterday. He was 55. We are obviously devastated at the loss.

“Charles was a fine man, a talented politician, and a loving father to his young son. We ask therefore that the privacy of his family is respected in the coming days.

“There will be a post-mortem and we will issue a further statement when funeral arrangements are made.”

Mr Kennedy led the Liberal Democrats from 1999 until 2006.

He was a Member of Parliament from 1983 to 2015 having lost his seat of Ross, Skye, and Lochaber to a challenger from the Scottish National Party last month.

Mr Kennedy led the Liberal Democrats to their best general election result before or since, in 2005, when they gained 62 seats.

Much of his party's popularity at the time was gained by Mr Kennedy's decision to oppose the war in Iraq.

He stepped down as leader after considerable speculation about a drinking problem, which he announced he was getting treatment for at the time.

He was the only Liberal Democrat MP to vote against the formation of the coalition in 2010.

Tributes poured in for Mr Kennedy from senior figures from across the political spectrum.

In a statement outgoing party leader Nick Clegg said: “Charles's untimely death robs Britain of one of the most gifted politicians of his generation.

“Charles devoted his life to public service, yet he had an unusual gift for speaking about politics with humour and humility which touched people well beyond the world of politics,” he said.

“He was a staunch internationalist and passionate believer in Britain's role in Europe, yet he was a proud Highlander, Scot and British parliamentarian.

“He was one of the most gentle and unflappable politicians I have ever known, yet he was immensely courageous too not least when he spoke for the country against the invasion of Iraq.

“He led the Liberal Democrats to our party's greatest electoral successes, yet he always remained modest about his huge achievements.

“Whenever I asked him for advice, he was unfailingly kind and wise,” the former deputy prime minister added.

“Most of all, I will never forget the pride and love with which he would talk about his own family, most especially his devotion to his son Donald.

“My heart goes out to his sister and brother and to Sarah and Donald at this tragic time.”

On Twitter the former Deputy Prime Minister posted:

Paddy Ashdown, Mr Kennedy's predecessor as leader of the Liberal Democrats, tweeted:

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

Leadership candidate Tim Farron tweeted:

Another, Norman Lamb, said:

Acting Labour leader Harriet Harman tweeted:

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