Tributes are being paid this morning to former leader of the Liberal Democrats, Charles Kennedy, who has died aged 55. 

His body was found at his home in Fort William. The cause of death is not yet known, but it is not being treated as suspicious, though a post mortem will take place. 

Kennedy led his party to their best ever election result back in 2005, with 62 MPs elected to Parliament, but he resigned as leader of the party the following year. He'd taken over the helm of the Lib Dems back in 1999 and was seen as one of their great leaders and a true Liberal reformer. 

He took over the helm of the Lib Dems at age 39, but by then had already been in politics for 16 years, originally starting as the SDP (precursor the Lib Dems) spokesman for Social Security.


Unusually charismatic, yet remaining human and often showing vulnerability and frailty, he was known to suffer from issues with alcohol, which ultimately led to his resignation from the leadership, although he remained a backbench MP until he dramatically lost his seat in the May election. 

Nick Clegg, current leader of the party has paid tribute to him, saying his death has robbed Britain of one of the most gifted politicians of his generation. Prime Minister David Cameron also added that he had died "far too young" and that his thoughts were with his family. Kennedy's close personal friend and former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell has, this morning, posted a very moving tribute on his own website, commenting that "he spoke fluent human, because he had humanity in every vein and cell". 

Friends had been worried how he would cope with the election defeat, which saw all but 3 seats in the Scottish parliament taken by the SNP.

Kennedy knew he had a tough battle on his hands this time and writing after he lost his seat he commented that serving the communities in the Highlands had been the "greatest privilege of his adult life" and that he was saddened not to be involved in the newly devolved Scotland's future.   

He leaves behind a son, aged 10, Donald, from his marriage to Sara Gurling, which ended in divorce in 2010.  Family and friends have requested privacy at this time, to come to terms with their loss.