South East MEP Catherine Bearder has paid tribute to former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy.
The Scottish politician died at his home in Fort William on Monday, aged just 55.
He led the party from 1999 to 2006 and was an MP for 32 years before losing his Westminster seat to the SNP last month.
Mrs Bearder said: “The loss of Charles will be felt most keenly by his son and family, and to them I send my heartfelt condolences.
“But his loss will also be felt by his wider family, that of the Liberal Democrats.
“He was there at the birth of our party, in fact without him it might have been a completely different one.
“He was there with so many of us as our leader as we fought our council seats, campaigns and elections up and down the country.
“I campaigned with him many times in Oxford. On the Cowley Road we stopped the traffic so large were the crowds, after which Charles spent a long time with the disabled son of a supporter despite all the stress and demands of a packed day.
“He was a steadfast supporter of our internationalism and the role that the UK plays in the world. “It was this that led him to take his stand against the illegal war in Iraq.
“When everyone was advising him to support the then Blair administration he stood firm, insisting that this war was unjust and had no legal basis. As a Lib Dem it was one of my proudest moments.”
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