Fears that his extramarital affairs were about to be exposed by a Sunday newspaper could have led the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, Michael Todd, to commit suicide.
Just a day after his body was found about 100 metres from the summit of Snowdon in north Wales, reports were circulating that Mr Todd – who was tipped as a likely future head of the Metropolitan Police – had killed himself after learning that his liaisons were about to become public.
Sources at Greater Manchester Police claimed yesterday it was an "open-secret" that the 50-year-old father-of-three was cheating on his wife with at least one female officer. Other reports suggested he had fathered a child by another woman.
The publicist Max Clifford revealed that he had been approached by a man claiming to have details of a "massive scandal on a top copper". Mr Clifford said that the man, calling himself Paul, did not indicate who the officer in question was or what the alleged "scandal" was when he contacted him on Tuesday last week.
Mr Todd sent a series of "worrying" texts in the hours before his death, the content of which caused those who received them to become concerned for their own safety and for that of Mr Todd.
It was apparently after learning of the texts that police began their search for the Chief Constable in the early hours of Tuesday. It culminated in the discovery that afternoon of Mr Todd's body.
Officers said Mr Todd, who was believed to have recently separated from his wife, had spoken to colleagues at Greater Manchester Police about his state of mind in the hours before his death. His wife and three children live in Nottinghamshire.
"He had spoken to a number of people in the 24 hours before his death about his state of mind," said one policeman, who wished to remain anonymous. "We knew this was on his mind but no one believed this could have happened. It has come as a total shock to us all."
Early reports suggested that Mr Todd was found with notes to loved ones on his person. However, Greater Manchester Police later issued a statement denying that notes had been found at the scene. They also dismissed reports that Mr Todd had been found half-naked with slashes to his wrists.
A source said: "The body was found next to a half-full bottle of gin, slumped face down on a gentle slope. There was no evidence of any pills or tablets but that is something the coroner will have to look at. Members of the team covered his face as a mark of respect. His jacket was found near by.
"It is nonsense that he was half-dressed. He could have walked down the street without anyone raising an eyebrow. There were no signs of slit wrists... I have seen suicide cases on the mountain before where people have taken alcohol and pills before taking their life.
"It is conceivable he drank too much and that hastened the onset of hypothermia.
"No one would have survived conditions on Snowdon on Monday night – it was horrendous. There are no obvious injuries compatible with a fall from height."
The results of a post -mortem examination revealed "no obvious cause of death". Toxicology tests will be done today.
Tributes continued to be paid to Mr Todd, who had been in the police force since 1976. Representatives from the Greater Manchester Police Federation, the National Muslim Police Association and the GMP Lesbian and Gay Staff Affiliation all added their voices to those of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, and the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith. They spoke of a "good chief, a good leader and a good man" and vowed that he would "never be forgotten".
Books of condolence were opened on Manchester police's website and by Trafford Council.