Housing scandal provoked doctor's suicide

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MIKAEL DUTT, a former Tory councillor and one of 10 people accused by the District Auditor of gerrymandering in Westminster, shot himself because he did not have the energy and resources to fight the case, his suicide note said.

Dr Dutt, a consultant geriatrician at St Albans hospital, committed suicide within a few days of hearing, on 13 January, that he was one of ten councillors and officials accused jointly in the Westminster 'designated sales' scandal of causing losses of pounds 21.25m, the St Albans coroner, Edward Thomas, was told yesterday.

A pathologist, Dr William Blenkinsop, said Dr Dutt's body, discovered on 26 January, had lain for between five and ten days in his second-floor flat in Garnett Close, St Albans, before police, alerted by colleagues concerned at his absence from work, found his body.

In a suicide note left under a Bible by his body, Dr Dutt blames the proceedings brought against him by the Westminster District Auditor: 'My decision to end my life is due solely to the need to continue to fight this matter of designated sales further draining my energy and requiring resources I do not have. I could not do my demanding medical work properly and without this I do not choose to continue living.'

Dr Dutt had faxed two letters in similar terms to John Magill, the District Auditor, on 13 and 15 January, saying he would not try to contest the decision, arguing that the report contained many falsehoods, that Mr Magill's decision was both 'false and perverse' and that he had his own agenda which had nothing to do with gerrymandering.

Dr Dutt was a Westminster councillor between 1986 and 1990, and vice-chairman of the housing committee in July 1987 when the decision on 'designated sales' was taken. He stood for the Tories in Leicester South in the 1992 general election, coming second, 9,440 votes behind Labour.

The Westminster 10 were accused of setting out to change the political complexion of the borough by concentrating sales of council property in eight marginal wards.

Mr Magill had said Dr Dutt's evidence 'was not credible' and suggested that he was involved in monitoring the progress of sales.

The inquest heard that Dr Dutt had set up a shotgun with a cleaning brush and put it in his mouth. He had been the subject of at least three 'routine' complaints arising from his medical practice.