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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 January 2006, 18:37 GMT
In pictures: Kennedy's life in politics

Charles Kennedy leaves his home in south London on Saturday to give a statement announcing his resignation as Liberal Democrat leader

Mr Kennedy announced his resignation as Lib Dem leader two days after admitting a drink problem, saying it had become clear he did not have enough support among MPs to continue.

Charles Kennedy

Mr Kennedy had been tipped for the top from the moment he entered the Commons in 1983, aged 23. Twenty years later he was leader of the UK's third largest political party.

Paddy Ashdown and Charles Kennedy at a party conference in 1993

Through the 1980s and 1990s Mr Kennedy held a series of frontbench posts, working under the leadership of Paddy Ashdown.

Charles Kennedy following his election as party leader

He succeeded Mr Ashdown as Lib Dem leader in 1999 and under his stewardship the party steadily increased its representation in Westminster.

Kennedy receives an eye test at the optometry unit of the Royal Bournemouth Hospital during a party conference

With his sights firmly set on making the party a real player at Westminster, Kennedy soon became the most successful Lib Dem leader of modern times.

On  Have I got News for You

His regular television appearances, here on Have I got News for You, brought him to the attention of many who had little interest in traditional Westminster politics.

Charles Kennedy and Sarah Gurling

In 2002 he became engaged to his partner of four years, Sarah Gurling.

Charles and Sarah Kennedy

In 2005, just prior to the general election, Sarah Kennedy gave birth to their first child, Donald James, named after Mr Kennedy's grandfather.

Wiping his brow

But negative rumours about his health and lifestyle proved hard to shake off, despite public vows to take more exercise, drink less alcohol and stop smoking.

Charles Kennedy

Despite a successful general election in the early part of the year, by the end of 2005 his leadership of the Lib Dems was being questioned.


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