Charles Kennedy died of alcohol-related haemorrhage

Charles Kennedy pictured in September. Picture: John Devlin
Charles Kennedy pictured in September. Picture: John Devlin
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CHARLES Kennedy died as a result of his long fight with a drink problem, a post-mortem examination has concluded.

In a statement, the former Liberal Democrat leader’s family said the post-mortem found that he suffered a “major


The family said they had been “touched beyond measure by the outpouring of warmth” from all parts of the country and all sides of politics after 55-year-old Mr Kennedy died suddenly at his home in Fort William on Monday.

His ex-wife Sarah Gurling and ten-year-old son Donald attended a special session in the House of Commons on Wednesday, when MPs delivered a series of warm tributes to their popular former colleague.

Mr Kennedy admitted publicly that he had been receiving treatment for an alcohol problem just months after leading the party to its greatest success in the 2005 general election.

Despite declaring his hope to continue at the head of the party, he was forced to stand down in the face of the threat of resignations by senior colleagues.

He lost his Commons seat after 32 years last month as the SNP almost swept the board north of the Border in the general election.

• In full: Charles Kennedy family statement

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said he hoped one legacy of Mr Kennedy’s untimely death would be a better public awareness of the dangers of excessive drinking.

“We knew he had a battle with alcoholism and it was one that he ultimately lost,” said Mr Rennie.

“I can only hope that people will have a greater understanding of alcoholism as an illness.

,” he said.

“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. The warmth of the appreciation for Charles’ life from far and wide has touched his family and friends.”

Tony Blair’s ex-spin doctor Alastair Campbell, who built a close friendship with his former political opponent around the “shared enemy” of the battle withbooze drink, said he hoped confirmation that alcohol abuse led to the his death would make politicians take it more seriously as an illness.

The pair had been due to meet up yesterday to mark the retirement of Mr Campbell’s brother as the piper at Glasgow University, where Mr Kennedy previously served as rector.

“The response since Charles died has been remarkable and I think one of the reasons is that people realised that, amid his confidence and his evident political skills, there was a real humanity and vulnerability to him,” he said Mr Campbell.

“None of us are surprised that alcoholism played a part in his tragic death but what has been great about the tributes is that they have focused on so much more than this.

“I hope that remains the case as people continue to remember him as we move towards the funeral and then subsequent memorials.

“I also hope that politicians of all parties develop a better understanding of alcoholism, take it more seriously and devise policies to treat it as a disease on a par with the other major diseases.

“Today is a particularly poignant day because Charles was due to be joining me at a farewell party for my brother Donald, who is retiring from his role as official piper at Glasgow University where Charles was once rector.

“We will obviously be paying tribute to his memory and reflecting on the loss so many are feeling.”


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