THE BBC is under fire after former Lib Dem leader and recovering alcoholic Charles Kennedy appeared on Question Time giving a stumbling and confused performance.

While Mr Kennedy is facing renewed questions about his health amid suggestions he was drunk, the broadcaster has been criticised for allowing him to appear on the show.

Amongst the accusations thrown at the Question Time producers is that they were "irresponsible" for failing to protect the 55-year-old, whose past problems with alcoholism are well documented.

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The Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP appeared to slur his words, struggled to put full sentences together and had to ask host David Dimbleby to repeat the question on more than one occasion.

He also misunderstood a comment from another panellist and claimed he had heard "clap trap" from the other guests.

It was claimed yesterday the BBC approached Mr Kennedy directly rather than through the Lib Dems.

Amongst those taking to Twitter to voice their views was broadcaster and footballer Stan Collymore.

Collymore, who has had a long battle with depression, said: "Seeing a lot of mocking towards Charles Kennedy. A good man who needs a little help. Like many people do now and again."

One Twitter user, CarmanDominic, tweeted: "It is embarrassing, unfortunate and irresponsible to allow Charles Kennedy on in the state he is in - no fit state."

Another, Davey Stewart, tweeted: 'Charles Kennedy on Question Time was very uncomfortable viewing. A visibly broken soul! Shame on BBC for allowing him onto the panel. Duty Of Care."

Another said: "Charles Kennedy has admitted to alcoholism. It was very clear to 1000s watching tonight that his fight is ongoing. BBC should be ashamed."

When asked for his views on the Jeremy Clarkson scandal, Mr Kennedy said: "Jeremy Clarkson, the future, this is very politically incorrect of me, but, end of Gone With The Wind, frankly my dear, I don't give a damn."

Mr Kennedy was Lib Dem leader from 1999 to 2006, when a leadership contest was called after he admitted battling drink.

In 2010, he split from his wife Sarah after eight years. The couple have a son together who is called Donald.

No comments was issued yesterday by Mr Kennedy's office but a Lib Dem source was quoted as saying: "It was quite clear that he was not his usual self last night."

The BBC declined to comment.