Former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown dies aged 77
Ex-Liberal Democrats leader Paddy Ashdown has died aged 77 after a short illness, a party spokesperson has said.
The former MP for Yeovil, who "made an immeasurable contribution to furthering the cause of liberalism", passed away on Saturday evening, a statement said.
Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable said Lord Ashdown had "made a real mark" on Parliament and it was "a hugely sad day".
Lord Ashdown was diagnosed with bladder cancer in October.
The longest serving leader of the Lib Dems in its history, Lord Ashdown led the party between 1988 and 1999, when it became a growing force in UK politics.
After standing down as an MP in 2001, he served as the United Nations' high representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina, helping steer the country through its post-war reconstruction.
Former Lib Dem leader and ex-deputy PM Sir Nick Clegg said Lord Ashdown was "the most heartfelt person I have known".
"Paddy was the reason I entered politics," he said.
"He was the reason I became a liberal. And he became a lifelong mentor, friend and guide."
Former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said: "Paddy Ashdown was a hero to me, he saved and revived the Liberal Democrats at our lowest ebb, and then led us to our best result for 70 years.
"As a movement, we owe him our very existence."
Sir Vince said Lord Ashdown was "a great inspiration".
"He was full of life, full of ideas," he told BBC News.
"Only three months ago he was absolutely buzzing with energy and ideas at our party conference".
Former Lib Dem leader Lord Steel said Lord Ashdown had transformed the party from one with just a handful of seats to being "a really influential party in Parliament".
Lord Steel added: "The last time I spoke to him was just two or three weeks back, it was about the books he was writing.
"He was starting to carve out a new career as a really, very interesting author on books really to do with the Second World War, located in France, where, of course, he had a holiday house."
Lord Ashdown campaigned with then-leader Nick Clegg ahead of the 2015 general election
My view: Paddy Ashdown served his country with with distinction and dignity, RIP.