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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 January 2006, 18:43 GMT
Charles Kennedy statement in full
Charles Kennedy
Mr Kennedy thanked his colleagues for their support
Below is the full personal statement issued by Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy:

I've called this press conference to address one issue directly and one that's been a source of concern for me and others for some time.

Over the past 18 months I've been coming to terms with and seeking to cope with a drinking problem, and I've come to learn through that process that a drink problem is a serious problem indeed.

It's serious for yourself and it's serious for those around you.

I've sought professional help and I believe today that this issue is essentially resolved.

Dealt with

People close to me know that this has been a struggle and that for extended periods I've consumed no alcohol at all.

As a matter of fact I've not had a drink for the past two months and I don't intend to in the future.

I learned the hard way of the need to face up to this medical problem, one that is dealt with successfully by many others on a daily basis.

I chose not to acknowledge it publicly before in this way because, if at all possible, I wanted to overcome it privately.

In a sense, this admission today comes as something of a personal relief. I should have been willing to talk about it more openly before. I wish I had.

This issue has - understandably - been of concern to several of my parliamentary colleagues.

Grateful

They have been both understanding and supportive.

I am extremely grateful to them for that.

It also lies beneath much of the current leadership speculation within the parliamentary party.

Therefore, let me be clear. I consider myself capable and in good health - and I remain politically determined as leader of the party.

This party's members have shown me tremendous support over the years and overwhelmingly in recent weeks and days.

It is a privilege to serve as their leader. I want to continue doing so, not least because the prospects in front of us in this parliament are so great.

Represent

Given my statement today I believe it is only fair now to give our party members their say over the continuing leadership.

It is open to any colleague who believes that they can better represent the longer-term interests of the party to stand against me in such a leadership election.

I am requesting that the party puts in place the necessary steps to enable this election to take place immediately.

Given the extremely personal nature of this statement I trust that you will understand that I do not propose to make further comments.



SEE ALSO:
Nick Robinson's weblog
05 Jan 06 |  Magazine
Profile: Charles Kennedy
14 Dec 05 |  UK Politics
The Lib Dem leadership options
15 Dec 05 |  UK Politics
Kennedy vows to fight for his job
04 Jan 06 |  UK Politics
Kennedy's battle to survive
04 Jan 06 |  UK Politics
Will Kennedy be Cameron's first scalp?
16 Dec 05 |  UK Politics


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