THE former leader of the Liberal Democrats in Britain, Charles Kennedy, has died at his home aged 55, his family said.
The Scottish ex-MP's death was not believed to be suspicious and the cause of death has yet to be confirmed.
Mr Kennedy lost his seat in the Ross, Skye and Lochaber constituency to the SNP's Ian Blackford in last month's general election.
A statement released on behalf of his family said: "It is with great sadness, and an enormous sense of shock, that we announce the death of Charles Kennedy.
"Charles died at home in Fort William yesterday. He was 55. We are obviously devastated at the loss.
"Charles was a fine man, a talented politician, and a loving father to his young son. We ask therefore that the privacy of his family is respected in the coming days.
"There will be a post-mortem and we will issue a further statement when funeral arrangements are made."
A spokesman for Police Scotland said: "Police officers attended an address at Fort William on Monday, June 1 to reports of the sudden death of a 55-year-old man. Police were notified by ambulance service personnel.
"There are no suspicious circumstances and our report will be submitted to the procurator fiscal."
An MP since 1983, Mr Kennedy had previously taken the party to its best election result since the 1920s at the 2005 contest.
His political career began in the Social Democratic Party, winning the Ross, Cromarty and Skye seat to become the youngest MP of the time at the age of 24.
Taking over from Paddy Ashdown in 1999, he went on to lead the party through its most successful period.
His leadership was marked by his opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which helped propel the Liberal Democrats to their best result in more than 80 years with 62 seats.
But in January 2006 - following months of rumours about his drinking - Mr Kennedy dramatically admitted he had been receiving treatment for an alcohol problem and said he was calling a leadership contest.
While he declared that he wanted to carry on he was forced to stand down in the face of the threat of mass resignations by senior colleagues.