'Isolated' BBC chief drowned herself

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The Independent Online

A senior BBC director drowned herself after feeling "under- supported" and "isolated" at work, an inquest heard.

Kari Boto, 53, of Ipswich, was found in the sea at Felixstowe in June last year – three days before her BBC contract was due to expire.

The inquest at Ipswich Crown Court heard that Mrs Boto had suffered stress and anxiety in her role as a director with the BBC World Trust. Her husband of 26 years, Tom Boto, a consultant at Ipswich Hospital, told the inquest that his wife had suffered "mental and physical illness" after taking on the role in October 2006. He said this resulted in her telling a senior manager of her intention to resign, a decision she later tried to reverse. Mr Boto said BBC bosses encouraged her to stick to her original plan and she was later told her employment would end on 30 June.

"She felt completely under-supported, unprotected. She felt completely isolated. She realised doors for her career had been shut on her," said Mr Boto.

"She became anxious and worried about her job. She was worried about failure because she could not see any way to make it a success. She was crying for help, but nobody at the BBC listened to her problems. She talked about her job and her anxieties all of the time. We all knew about the traumas she was suffering and I cannot understand why managers at the BBC were not aware of what was happening."

By March last year Mr Boto said his wife had become extremely distressed. "She became phobic about going to work which was unusual for her. She had mentally shut down."

The inquest heard that clothes belonging to Mrs Boto, who had worked for the BBC for 30 years, were found neatly folded on the beach at Felixstowe. She was dragged from the sea but resuscitation efforts failed. Notes written by Mrs Boto to members of her family were found in her car.

Peter Dean, the coroner, recorded a verdict of suicide.