Former Liberal Democrats leader Paddy Ashdown dies aged 77
British politician and former leader of the Liberal Democrats Lord Paddy Ashdown has passed away after being treated for cancer, aged 77.
Once a marine commando and diplomat, Ashdown was the Liberal Democrats' longest-serving leader for 11 years between 1988 and 1999, also serving as an MP for Yeovil.
He died last night after a battle with a short illness, according to a party spokesperson. He was diagnosed with bladder cancer in October.
The party said Ashdown had "made an immeasurable contribution to furthering the cause of liberalism".
The current Liberal Democrats leader Sir Vince Cable said Ashdown was responsible for the party's rise to popularity in 1997, doubling its number of MPs and "laying the ground for the strength which later took the party into government".
"This is a hugely sad day for the Liberal Democrats and for the very many people across political and public life who had immense affection and respect for Paddy," he added.
Prime Minister Theresa May said Ashdown had "dedicated his life to public service and he will be sorely missed".
After standing down as an MP in 2001, he went on to be appointed as the United Nations' high representative and an EU special representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The former politician had in recent years re-entered the political area to campaign in favour of the UK remaining in the European Union, as well as for a second referendum. He was said to have considered the result of the 2016 vote as "a sense of personal bereavement".
Ashdown is survived by his wife Jane, and his two children.