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Friends, family and politicians bid farewell to Kennedy

Family, friends and fellow politicians gathered in the sunshine today to bid a fond farewell to the former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy.

His funeral was a requiem mass at the local Catholic church he had attended since childhood.

ITV News' Scotland correspondent Debi Edward reports:

Political figures gather for Charles Kennedy funeral

Leading political figures have arrived at St John the Evangelist church, near Fort William, for the funeral of former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy.

Danny Alexander, Nick Clegg and Sir Menzies Campbell arrive at St John the Evangelist church, near Fort William, for Charles Kennedy's funeral Credit: PA

Former Lib Dem leaders Lord David Steel, Sir Menzies Campbell and Nick Clegg are among mourners attending the service, along with former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and ex-Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell, who was a close friend of Mr Kennedy's.

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown arrives for the service Credit: PA
Alistair Campbell and partner Fiona Millar arrive at the church Credit: PA

Both of Mr Kennedy's parents - who died in recent years, his father during the general election campaign - were laid to rest at the same church.

St John the Evangelist church, near Fort William, Scotland Credit: PA
The Order of Service at the funeral of Charles Kennedy Credit: PA

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'An extraordinary talent': Camerons pay tribute to Kennedy

Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha have sent flowers to the St John the Evangelist church near Fort William in Scotland, where Charles Kennedy will be laid to rest today.

David and Samantha Cameron pay tribute to Charles Kennedy Credit: PA

A note accompanying the white rose wreath described the former Liberal Democrat leader as an "extraordinary talent whose character and courage inspired us all."

The Prime Minister and his wife sent a white rose wreath to the service Credit: Pool

SNP official resigns over abusive Charles Kennedy tweets

An SNP official who sent more than 130 abusive Twitter messages to the late Charles Kennedy in the run-up to the general election has resigned.

An SNP official has resigned after an online campaign against the late Charles Kennedy in the run-up to the general election Credit: PA

Brian Smith, who was convener of the SNP Skye and Lochalsh branch, described the former Liberal Democrat leader as "quisling" and a "drunken slob" in the messages, the Daily Mail reported.

Mr Kennedy lost his seat in the Ross, Skye and Lochaber constituency to the SNP's Ian Blackford in last month's election.

Mr Smith was spoken to and accepts that his comments during the campaign were entirely inappropriate - as a result, he has resigned as convener of the Skye and Lochalsh branch.

...Today is a day to remember Charles Kennedy with respect and dignity.

– SNP spokesman

Mr Smith, who is a former policeman, according to the Daily Record, had never been been employed by Mr Blackford in any capacity, the SNP spokesman said.

His Twitter account @lobsterferret has now been deleted.

Mr Kennedy, a father of one, died suddenly at his home on June 1 at the age of 55. He had suffered a major haemorrhage as a result of a long battle with alcoholism.

His funeral is due to take place near his Highland home today.

Charles Kennedy's funeral to take place on Friday

Former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy, who died a week ago. Credit: PA

The funeral of former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy will take place on Friday, his family has announced.

The 55-year-old, who lost his seat in Parliament at the general election, died a week ago after suffering a major hemorrhage following a long battle with alcoholism.

His funeral will take place at noon at St John's Church in Caol, near his Fort William home and the site where both his parents were laid to rest.

Large crowds are expected to gather for the service, after which his body will be buried at Clunes, Achnacarry.

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Campbell: Charles Kennedy's death has touched people

One of Charles Kennedy's closest friends, Alastair Campbell, has told ITV News that the death of the former Lib Dem leader "has touched people".

He also said that the alcoholism that killed him made him "vulnerable" and is an illness that often goes unrecognised.

The former Downing Street spin doctor was speaking after Mr Kennedy's family revealed how he died from a massive haemorrhage brought on by his heavy drinking.

ITV News' Political Correspondent Romilly Weeks reports.

Kennedy death 'should remove drink problem stigma'

The death of Charles Kennedy should remove some of the stigma around alcohol addiction, one of the late politician's former rivals for Liberal Democrat leader has said.

Jackie Ballard stood against Mr Kennedy in the Lib Dem leadership contest in 1999. Credit: Kirsty Wigglesworth / PA Archive

Jackie Ballard, who is now chief executive of Alcohol Concern, said Mr Kennedy's life and achievements should not be masked by his drink problem.

Let's not define Charles Kennedy by his alcoholism. That would be awful because he did so much with his life and he was so much more than that.

But if we can use it as a way to start conversations about alcohol so that other people can get help and treatment before they get to the point of being addicted, then that would be a positive thing.

– Jackie Ballard

Ms Ballard said Mr Kennedy's death at 55 showed how the disease can affect anyone.

Addiction to alcohol has no respect of status, income or anything else in life and too often people's impression of an alcoholic is somebody who is a street drinker or homeless.

There are 1.4 million people in this country who are dependent on alcohol and they are all around us. They are in our families, they are in our work places and tragically Charles was one of many.

– Jackie Ballard

Charles Kennedy died of 'major haemorrhage'

A post mortem has found Charles Kennedy died of a 'major haemorrhage' Credit: PA

A post mortem has found Charles Kennedy died of a "major haemorrhage" that was "a consequence of his battle with alcoholism", the former Liberal Democrat leader's family said.

They added: "Ultimately this was an illness Charles could not conquer despite all the efforts he and others made."

The family said they had been "touched beyond measure by the outpouring of warmth" from all parts of the country and all sides of politics after 55-year-old Mr Kennedy died suddenly at his home in Fort William on Monday.

The report makes clear this was a consequence of his battle with alcoholism.

We are grateful to the many friends and also medical experts who sought to help down the years but ultimately this was an illness Charles could not conquer despite all the efforts he and others made.

– Charles Kennedy family statement
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