Kennedy "Was Man Of Principle"

19 June 2015, 07:17 | Updated: 19 June 2015, 07:33

The late Charles Kennedy was a man of principle who left this world without a single enemy, political leaders and friends heard at a service to honour his life.

The University of Glasgow, where Mr Kennedy studied and later served as rector, organised the memorial to pay tribute to their former student.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie and Scottish Secretary David Mundell were among the congregation, along with former Lib Dem leader Menzies Campbell, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson and former Scottish Labour leaders Iain Gray and Johann Lamont.

Mr Kennedy's partner, Carole MacDonald, also attended, along with former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell, a close friend of the former MP who lost his seat at the House of Commons in last month's general election.

The father of one died suddenly earlier this month at the age of 55. He had suffered a major haemorrhage as a result of a long battle with alcoholism.

The service began with Mr Campbell and his brother Donald piping in leading figures from the university.

Sir Kenneth Calman, the Chancellor of the University, said Mr Kennedy "contributed greatly to this university's inheritance and to the people of Scotland''.

The service, led by university chaplain the Reverend Stuart MacQuarrie, included readings from Mr Mundell, Ms Sturgeon - who was also a student there - and Mr Rennie.

Lord Wallace, a former Scottish Lib Dem leader and former deputy first minister, described Mr Kennedy as a "man of principle''.

"Even in private I never heard him speak ill about those with whom he disagreed,'' he said.

"Frustration, yes, but malice, no, and I can't help but think how much healthier would be the political climate in Scotland today if people and overly zealous activists in particular could emulate Charles Kennedy and respect the sincerely held views of others.''

Professor Anton Muscatelli, the principal and vice chancellor of the university, recalled Mr Kennedy's "deep-seated sense of social justice'' and "his love of education''.

"If the university has a profound sense of loss, we know that Charles' family and his close circle of friends will be feeling it much more and our thoughts are with them all,'' he said.

Lifelong friend Brian McBride told how Mr Kennedy had battled with alcohol during his life.

"Like many Scots he could and sometimes did drink a lot,'' he said.

"He did struggle with alcohol, and as we know, he battled it.

"But he was also so honest about it. To those of us who knew of his problem and who could talk to him about it, he never lied or hid how he was doing.

"And it was ups and downs. There were good days, good weeks, good periods.

"During these recent years I know he and Carole have been a great team, close companions and they were a constant and loving source of strength and comfort to each other.''

Mr McBride said Mr Kennedy had spoken to him a few years ago about other possible careers instead of politics, such as business or the media.

"Despite the undoubted opportunities that were there for him, he had a huge public service ethos,'' he said.

"As an MP, as a party leader, as a university rector, you don't do these things for the money. He was here to serve.''

He added: "I doubt I will ever see his like again, one of the few public people who walked this earth and didn't leave a single enemy.

"He was always Charles, with a word, and a smile and a story for everyone, with those smiling blue/green eyes and his firm handshake.''

Rory Slater, the current president of Glasgow University Union, described Mr Kennedy as "true friend and ally'' of students at the university.

Meanwhile Breffni O'Connor, the president of the Students Representative Council said he had "left a cherished legacy at this university''.