Kennedy death triggers alcohol education plea

Charles Kennedy
Charles Kennedy
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FRIENDS of Charles Kennedy asked for people to remember the former Liberal Democrat leader for more than his battle against drink after it was revealed his alcoholism played a role in his death.

Mr Kennedy’s family confirmed that the post-mortem examination had found he had died of a “major haemorrhage” that was a “consequence of his battle with alcoholism”.

Charles Kennedy

Charles Kennedy

The family also thanked the public and MPs for their tributes which were offered in the Commons earlier this week under the watching gaze of Mr Kennedy’s 10-year-old son Donald.

“The words and images of that day, and of so many other tributes, will be there for us to look back on with pride in Charles, and Donald will always know what a special father he had,” the family said in a statement.

Mr Kennedy’s death triggered tributes from across the political spectrum and beyond as well as reflections on a career which saw him lead the Liberal Democrats but eventually have to stand down following revelations about his problems with alcohol.

Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s Downing Street spokesman and a friend of Mr Kennedy’s, said: “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.

Former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy who has died at his home aged 55.

Former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy who has died at his home aged 55.

“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.

Mr Kennedy’s former campaign manager Conn O’Neill said: “Today’s revelation that his death is related to alcohol in no way diminishes the great tragedy of his loss.

“Charles’s long suffering from a terrible illness should not be trivialised as a problem or ‘his demons’. The legacy of Charles Kennedy is far greater. Let us continue to reflect upon the positive impact he has had on the lives of so many.”

Former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy who has died at his home aged 55.

Former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy who has died at his home aged 55.

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 Ross, Skye and Lochaber Commons seat after 32 years last month as the SNP almost swept the board north of the border in the general election but had expressed interest in playing a role in the upcoming referendum on EU membership.

Former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy who has died at his home aged 55.

Former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy who has died at his home aged 55.