Al­co­holism killed ex-leader of UK lib­er­als: fam­ily

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Charles Kennedy, the for­mer leader of the UK’s Lib­eral Democrats, died as a re­sult of his drink­ing prob­lem, his fam­ily said Fri­day af­ter his post-mortem.

Kennedy, who led the party to its best gen­eral elec­tion re­sult since the 1920s, died sud­denly at his home in Fort Wil­liam on the west coast of Scot­land on Mon­day.

The post-mortem found that he suf­fered a “ma­jor hem­or­rhage,” the 55-year-old’s fam­ily said.

“The re­port makes clear this was a con­se­quence of his battle with al­co­holism,” it said.

“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.”

The Scot be­came the youngest mem­ber in par­lia­ment when he won his lo­cal seat in 1983, aged 23, but lost it in last month’s elec­tion.

He took over the lead­er­ship of the Lib­eral Democrats from Paddy Ash­down in 1999 and steered the Lib Dems to their best gen­eral elec­tion re­sults since the 1920s.

In 2005, they claimed 62 seats on the back of his lone stand among ma­jor party lead­ers in op­pos­ing the in­va­sion of Iraq.

Kennedy quit as leader just a year later in 2006 af­ter con­firm­ing he had re­ceived treat­ment for a drink­ing prob­lem.

He lost his seat af­ter 32 years in the May 7 gen­eral elec­tion as the Scot­tish Na­tional Party swept to victory in 56 of the 59 Scot­tish seats.

“We knew he had a battle with al­co­holism and it was one that he ul­ti­mately lost. I can only hope that peo­ple will have a greater un­der­stand­ing of al­co­holism as an ill­ness,” said Scot­tish Lib­eral Demo­crat leader Wil­lie Ren­nie.

“That he was such an out­stand­ing public fig­ure whilst he was ill shows how re­mark­able he was. It is im­por­tant to re­mem­ber how Charles lived and not just how he died.”

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