Westminster drinking culture 'contributed to Charles Kennedy's problems'


A drinking culture at the House of Commons contributed "quite a lot" to Charles Kennedy's problems with alcohol, the former MP's partner said.

The former Liberal Democrat leader died suddenly at his home in Fort William, in the Scottish Highlands, earlier this year. The 55-year-old had suffered a major haemorrhage as a result of a long battle with alcoholism.

His body was discovered by his partner Carole Macdonald, who was the widow  of one of Mr Kennedy's close friends, Murdo Maconald, who died several years ago.

In her first interview, Mrs Macdonald revealed she believes a drinking culture at Westminster - where Mr Kennedy spent 32 years as an MP - had played a part in his problem with alcohol.

She told the Sunday Times: "You are in an environment, often late at night, where drink is available, cheap, sociable, and you don't have to drive.

"All the constraints that might stop you aren't there. It is there and it is being normalised within your life.

"I don't think it caused it, but I'm sure it contributed to it. I suppose it must have contributed quite a lot."

Mr Kennedy revealed he had been receiving treatment for an alcohol problem when he stood down as the UK leader of the Liberal Democrats in 2006.