Council legal chief was ‘unable to cope’

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SUFFOLK County Council’s former head of legal services took his own life due to intense work pressures, an inquest heard.

David White, 51, was found hanged in woodland in Butley, near Woodbridge, on April 4, after leaving an answering machine message for his wife saying where he could be found.

At the inquest, at IP-City Centre, in Ipswich on Wednesday, a note written by Mr White to former council chief executive Andrea Hill was read out. In it, he said she was not to blame in any way for his death.

The note read: “I just wanted you to know my death is not in any way or sense directed at you personally or meant as any form of protest or comment on your leadership of the council or the New Strategic Direction.

“It is simply because I have been unable to cope with the demands placed upon me.”

Mr White had become interim head of legal services in January last year and accepted the full position of head of legal services just days before his body was discovered.

He had been working very long hours, often over the weekend, involved in overseeing a 30 per cent budget cut in the council, the inquest heard.

Recording a verdict that Mr White took his own life, coroner Dr Peter Dean said there was no doubt he intended the consequences of his actions.

After the hearing, Jane Storey, who was the council’s interim leader when Mr White died, said there were new procedures in place to deal with workplace stress.

She said: “We had extra help in after David had died because there had already been a couple of people go and it put additional stress on colleagues who were left behind.

“We have always had a counselling service as part of our human resources department. It is so sad, David was such a lovely man and was greatly respected and well loved by councillors and staff.”