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Charles Kennedy killed by haemorrhage linked to alcoholism

By Joe Churcher

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 he had suffered a "major haemorrhage".

"The report makes clear this was a consequence of his battle with alcoholism," the statement added. "This was an illness Charles could not conquer despite all the efforts he and others made."

The family added they had been "touched beyond measure by the outpouring of warmth" since the 55-year-old died on Monday.

His relatives also thanked the authorities and emergency services for dealing with the death "with such courtesy, kindness and efficiency" and said funeral arrangements would now be made.

Tony Blair's former spin doctor Alastair Campbell, who built a close friendship with Kennedy around the "shared enemy" of the battle with booze, said he hoped confirmation that alcohol abuse led to the death would make politicians take it more seriously.

"The response since Charles died has been remarkable and I think one of the reasons is that people realised that, amid his confidence and political skills, there was a humanity and vulnerability to him," Campbell added.

"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 more than this. I hope that remains the case. I also hope that politicians of all parties develop a better understanding of alcoholism."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said he hoped one legacy of Mr Kennedy's death would be a better understanding of the dangers of drinking.

"We knew he had a battle with alcoholism and it was one that he ultimately lost," he added. "It is important to remember how Charles lived and not just how he died. The warmth of the appreciation for Charles' life has touched his family and friends."

Mr Kennedy admitted he had been receiving treatment for an alcohol problem months after leading his party to its best result in the 2005 general election. Despite declaring his hope to continue at the head of the party, he was forced to stand down.

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

Belfast Telegraph


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