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Paddy Ashdown: John Major leads tributes to 'ideals man' at thanksgiving service

Westminster Abbey Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A large congregation gathered from across the political spectrum

A service of thanksgiving had been held at Westminster Abbey for former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown.

Lord Ashdown died last December aged 77, two months after being diagnosed with bladder cancer.

Four former Prime Ministers - Sir John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron - were among the congregation.

Lord Ashdown was MP for Yeovil from 1983 to 2001 and led the Lib Dems for 11 years between 1988 and 1999.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Sir John Major delivered a speech at the memorial

Sir John told the congregation that Lord Ashdown was a "political opponent who became a friend".

He added: "Not one moment of Paddy's life and times was ever wasted.

"He was always an internationalist, wedded to reason and consensus and dismissive of tribal politics. A man for ideals, not shabby deals."

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Former prime ministers paid their respects - (l to r) Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, David Cameron, Sir John Major

About 2,000 people attended, including former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, representatives of the Royal Marines, and many people from Paddy Ashdown's Yeovil constituency.

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Image caption Former Lib Dem leaders Vince Cable (left) and Tim Farron (right) attended

Speaking outside the Abbey, current Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson said Lord Ashdown had a "determination and a drive that others could not always match".

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Image caption The new Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson was at the ceremony for her predecessor

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