Paddy Ashdown

British politician and diplomat (1941–2018)

Jeremy John Durham "Paddy" Ashdown, Baron Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon GCMG CH KBE PC (27 February 1941 – 22 December 2018) was a British politician and international diplomat. He served as leader of the Liberal Democrats from July 1988 to August 1999.

The Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon

portrait photograph of Ashdown
Paddy Ashdown (2005)
Leader of the Liberal Democrats
In office
16 July 1988 – 11 August 1999
Preceded by
Succeeded byCharles Kennedy
4th High Representative
for Bosnia and Herzegovina
In office
27 May 2002 – 31 January 2006
Preceded byWolfgang Petritsch
Succeeded byChristian Schwarz-Schilling
1st European Union Special Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina
In office
3 June 2002 – 31 January 2006
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byChristian Schwarz-Schilling
Chair of the Liberal Democrat General Election Committee
In office
26 September 2012 – 7 May 2015
LeaderNick Clegg
Preceded byWillie Rennie[nb] (2010)
Succeeded byGreg Mulholland[nb]
Member of the House of Lords
Life peerage
10 July 2001 – 22 December 2018
Member of Parliament
for Yeovil
In office
9 June 1983 – 14 May 2001
Preceded byJohn Peyton
Succeeded byDavid Laws
Personal details
Jeremy John Durham Ashdown

(1941-02-27)27 February 1941
New Delhi, British India
Died22 December 2018(2018-12-22) (aged 77)
Norton-sub-Hamdon, Somerset, England
Cause of deathBladder cancer
Resting placeChurch of St Mary the Virgin, Norton Sub Hamdon
Political partyLiberal Democrats
Other political
Jane Courtenay (m. 1962)
Alma materBedford School
Military service
Allegiance United Kingdom
Branch/service Royal Marines
Years of service1959–1972
UnitSpecial Boat Service
n.b. ^ as Campaigns & Communications Chair



Paddy Ashdown was born in New Delhi, British India,[1] but was brought up in Northern Ireland[2] and his Irish accent brought him the nickname "Paddy". He served in the Royal Marines from 1959 to 1972 and saw fighting in Borneo, Hong Kong and Northern Ireland. At the 1983 general election, Ashdown became the Liberal Party's Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency of Yeovil.

In 1988, when the Liberal Party merged with the Social Democratic Party to form the Liberal Democrats, Ashdown was elected the leader of the new party and led the party through the 1992 and 1997 general elections. He resigned in 1999,[3] and was given both a knighthood and a seat in the House of Lords. In the House of Lords, he was given the title Baron Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon. From 2002 to 2006 he served as High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

His reputation was damaged slightly in 1992, when it was revealed that he had a five-month extra-marital affair with his secretary,[4] and many British newspapers exposed this in great detail. The Sun newspaper ran a famous headline which played on Ashdown's name, calling him "Paddy Pants-Down".

Ashdown was diagnosed with "serious" bladder cancer in October 2018.[5] He died two months later on 22 December 2018 from the disease in Norton-sub-Hamdon, Somerset, at the age of 77.[6]


  1. "Curriculum Vitae: Paddy Ashdown". Bosnia and Herzegovina: Office of the High Representative (OHR) and EU Special Representative (EUSR). 27 May 2002. Archived from the original on 10 November 2007. Retrieved 23 November 2007.
  2. Sale, Jonathan (18 October 2001). "An education in the life of Lord Ashdown: 'I was bullied early on, but then I learnt to fight'". The Independent. London. Retrieved 23 November 2007.[permanent dead link][permanent dead link]
  3. "Ashdown to quit as leader". BBC News. BBC. 20 January 1999.
  4. Ward, Lucy (21 January 1999). "End of the Ashdown era". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 22 November 2007.
  5. Heffer, Greg (2 November 2018). "Ex-Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown diagnosed with bladder cancer". Sky News. Sky UK. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  6. "Ex-Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown dies aged 77". BBC News. BBC. 22 December 2018. Retrieved 22 December 2018.

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