MP Jim Dobbin died during European trip after drinking Polish vodka

Former Heywood and Middleton MP Jim Dobbin consumed a powerful shot of spirit with each course during a meal to mark a political visit last September

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The Independent Online

A respected Labour MP died after drinking a deadly quantity of Polish spirits during a fact finding trip to Europe, an inquest has heard.

Former Heywood and Middleton MP Jim Dobbin consumed a powerful shot of spirit with each course during a meal to mark a political visit last September.

The 73-year-old backbencher was sent to bed by colleagues to “sleep it off” after complaining of feeling ill, however his wife Patricia, who accompanied him on the Council of Europe trip, raised the alarm after struggling to wake him during the night.

Following his death a post-mortem found that the MP had a blood alcohol level of 399mg per 100ml - nearly five times the UK legal drink drive limit. Yesterday Rochdale Coroner’s Court heard how Mr Dobbin never drank at home and only did so socially, according to the Manchester Evening News.

His wife told the inquest that the meal put on by the couple’s Polish hosts included a shot of Polish spirit with each course, a traditional event for important meals.

The trip, which was also attended by former Deputy PM John Prescott and Labour MP Alan Meale, to the city of Slupsk was in honour of it being awarded the council’s 2014 for “promoting the European ideal”.

His wife said: “He saw the MP Alan Meale and said he wanted to go over to him – so I went upstairs back to the hotel room.

“While he was downstairs he told some friends he began to feel dizzy so they brought him upstairs to the room at around 10.30pm.

“Alan and two colleagues were with him and he (Jim) said ‘What’s all this about?’

“His colleagues told him he just needed some sleep so I took off his tie and his shoes and [he] was soon asleep.”

Mr Dobbin was admitted to hospital later that night by his wife but died within less than an hour of his arrival.

 

Coroner Simon Nelson recorded a conclusion of death by misadventure, paying a warm tribute to Mr Dobbin.

He said: “When the Coroner’s system was undergoing change a few years ago, he was one of a few MPs who responded to a letter I sent out – and when I met him I found him every bit as engaging as has been described.

His wife said: “He never stopped – he was always busy and after he died, I had 940 cards of sympathy from all over the world.

“He was very sociable and outgoing and everything he set out to achieve in life, he achieved.

“The area could not have wished for a more appropriate person to serve their needs."

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