Former North Devon MP and Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe has died aged 85. Mr Thorpe had battled Parkinsons for three decades and his son Rupert announced his death today (Thursday). North Devon MP Nick Harvey was among those paying tribute to the former political giant, who served as North Devon MP from 1959-79). Jeremy Thorpe was a colossal figure in the revival of the Liberal cause in post-war Britain, and todays Lib Dem politicians continue to feast on his legacy, he said. His charisma, energy and innovative campaigning lit up his generation of British politics. He was the first to embrace fully the television age, the first to hit the campaign trail in a helicopter and both the first - and rather memorably the last - to deploy a hovercraft. In North Devon he was a greatly loved champion of the community and is remembered with huge affection to this day. Scandal hit when Mr Thorpe went on trial for charges of conspiracy and incitement to murder he was cleared of all charges but it spelled the end of his political career. But Mr Harvey added: It would be wrong to recall only the tragedy of his downfall - where in hindsight he can be seen largely as a casualty of the era in which he lived. Instead we should celebrate a towering force in shaping the political landscape of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. North Devon Conservative parliamentary candidate Peter Heaton-Jones hailed Mr Thorpe as a towering political figure. As a teenager in the 1970s becoming interested in politics for the first time, I can remember being gripped by the dramatic events that led eventually to the end of Jeremy Thorpes political career, he said. He made his mark on North Devon - quite literally. The memorial statue to his first wife at Codden Hill is one of my favourite viewpoints in North Devon. It will now take on a greater poignancy. My thoughts are with Jeremy Thorpes family and friends at this difficult time. He will be remembered fondly as a great public servant for North Devon.