BBC's 'Big George' died after he took illegal drug, inquest told

Presenter collapsed after suffering amassive heart attack and died before the paramedics could treat him

A BBC Radio presenter who composed the theme tune to Have I Got News For You died from a heart attack after taking the illegal drug mephedrone, an inquest has heard.

George Webley, 53, better-known to listeners as "Big George" was found at home by his wife in May. He had collapsed after suffering a massive heart attack and died before the paramedics could treat him.

An inquest at Milton Keynes Coroner's Court heard on Monday that Mr Webley had taken the Class-B drug mephedrone before his heart attack. He had a history of heart disease, the inquest heard, which made him more susceptible to the drug's ill-effects.

Coroner Thomas Osborne recorded a verdict of death by "misadventure".

Mr Osborne told the inquest that it would be wrong to record that Mr Webley had died from natural causes.

"Because of the cathinones in his blood, these designer drugs, and his previous illness, it's more likely than not that the final event was caused by the drugs in his system," Mr Osborne told the inquest.

Father of four Mr Webley, who won a Sony Award for his show on BBC Three Counties Radio, was found struggling for breath at his home in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire on May 7 this year.

His wife, Julia, called an ambulance but he died before paramedics could treat him. Mephedrone, also known as meow-meow, is an illegal stimulant and a popular drug among clubbers. It was made illegal in April last year after being linked to a number of deaths.

Mr Webley, who suffered a previous heart attack aged 38, was a patron of the Milton Keynes Community Cardiac Group. The post-mortem examination found his death to be caused by long-standing heart disease and illegal use of cathinones; amphetamines present in some brands of mephedrone.

Mr Webley's son, Harry, said the family would not comment on the inquest findings Mr Webley, who had three grandchildren, was also a musician. His radio career began in 1990, when he hosted the late Saturday show on the BBC's London station, GLR. In the late 1990s, he returned to Milton Keynes to host a programme on Horizon Radio.

He returned to the BBC with Three Counties Radio. Popular with listeners, "Big George" won a gold Sony Award for best music presenter for the show.

Mr Webley was also a band leader and a composer. He was the person who composed the musical theme for the BBC chat show, Room 101. A BBC spokeswoman commented that the radio presenter would be "sorely missed" by his friends and colleagues at the BBC.

"Our thoughts remain with George's family and friends following his untimely death," she said.

"We know he is sorely missed, both here at BBC London and by his many listeners," the spokeswoman added.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
i100
News
Budapest, 1989. Sleepware and panties.
newsDavid Hlynsky's images of Soviet Union shop windows shine a light on our consumerist culture
Arts and Entertainment
Eleanor Catton has hit back after being accused of 'treachery' for criticising the government.
books
News
In humans, the ability to regulate the expression of genes through thoughts alone could open up an entirely new avenue for medicine.
science
News
Williams says: 'The reason I got jobs was because they would blow the budget on the big guys - but they only had to pay me the price of a cup of tea'
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Recruitment Genius: External Relations Executive

£33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An External Relations Executive is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Project Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This established Digital Agency based in East ...

Guru Careers: Sales Director / Business Development Manager

£35 - 45K + COMMISSION (NEG): Guru Careers: A Sales Director / Business Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee