FORMER Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown has passed away, a party spokesman has announced.

The Lib Dems announced on Twitter around 8pm today (December 22) that the ex-Yeovil MP had 'passed away following a short illness'.

In November, Lord Ashdown announced he had been diagnosed with bladder cancer.

"I have known for about three weeks that I am suffering from a cancer of the bladder," he said.

"I am being effectively and wonderfully looked after by everyone at Yeovil Hospital, in whom I have complete confidence."

Lord Ashdown served as leader of the Liberal Democrats from 1988 to 1999.