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Timeline: Kennedy resignation

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 07 January 2006

Here is a timeline of the events that led to Charles Kennedy stepping down as Liberal Democrat leader


Charles Kennedy

Charles Kennedy

Thursday, January 5:

Reporters from ITV News contact Mr Kennedy with detailed allegations concerning his alcohol problem and the fact that he has received medical help.

4.42pm: Within an hour of being approached, Mr Kennedy calls a press conference at the party's London headquarters to make a "personal statement".

5.50pm: Amid a flurry of camera flashes, he admits he has been "seeking to cope with a drink problem" for the past 18 months. He has sought treatment and insists the issue is "essentially resolved".

Rather than resign, Mr Kennedy calls a leadership contest and vows to fight for the right to remain in his job. Following the statement, some senior party figures including deputy leader Sir Menzies Campbell and Home Affairs spokesman Mark Oaten praise his "courage" and vow to back him.

But later that evening it emerges that 10 members of the Liberal Democrat shadow cabinet - almost half the total - have signed a letter of no confidence calling on him to stand down.

Friday, January 6: Increasing numbers of Lib Dem MPs come forward to voice doubts that Mr Kennedy can survive as leader.

1pm: International development spokesman Andrew George announces he will quit his post by Monday if Mr Kennedy is still in the job.

3pm: Trade and industry spokesman Norman Lamb says he will also resign unless Mr Kennedy steps down.

4pm: Mr Kennedy's spokeswoman insists the Lib Dem leader will stay on and can survive a potential vote of confidence.

6pm: Twenty-five of the 62 Liberal Democrat MPs deliver a letter to Mr Kennedy calling on him to go.

In a statement issued by education spokesman Ed Davey, the MPs say they were giving Mr Kennedy a "couple of days to reflect on his position" after confirming they were not prepared to serve under him.

Mr Kennedy returns to his London home still promising to fight on, and says he is planning a "quiet" weekend with his family.

Saturday, January 7:

Mr Kennedy makes last-ditch plea for MPs not to "rush to hasty judgments" in an interview with the Independent newspaper. He urges them to consult carefully with constituency activists this weekend.

However, just 27% of more than 200 Lib Dem activists questioned in a YouGov poll for the Daily Telegraph said they wanted him to lead them into the next election while 65% said he should go.

2.04pm: A statement announces Mr Kennedy will be making a statement at 3pm.

2.57pm: He emerges from his south London home to travel to party headquarters by car.

3.11pm: He tells the press conference he is resigning as leader. Although he has been "inundated" by messages of support, "it has become clear that such support is not reflected strongly enough across the Parliamentary party".

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