Tory's Glastonbury death 'natural'

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A senior Tory and friend of Prime Minister David Cameron who was found dead in a toilet at this year's Glastonbury Festival died of natural causes, a coroner ruled today.

Christopher Shale, 56, was found dead in a backstage VIP area at the festival on June 26.



At his inquest in Wells Town Hall today, East Somerset coroner Tony Williams ruled that he died from heart disease.



The inquest heard he was missing on the site for around 18 hours before he was found near the Other Stage.



His widow Nikki paid tribute to her husband and hit out after the hearing at "inaccurate speculation" regarding his death.









Mrs Shale said: "It was always obvious to us, and confirmed very soon afterwards, that my husband, my darling husband, died of natural causes.

"It has been a cause of great regret to our children, to Chris's family and all our friends, that so much inaccurate speculation has appeared in the media with regard to the circumstances of his death.



"This has really not helped us at a very, very difficult time.



"We now need to move forward with the rest of our lives."









The inquest heard that Mr Shale, the chairman of the West Oxfordshire Conservative Association, which includes Mr Cameron's Witney constituency, was overweight and asthmatic.

Pathologist Dr Basil Purdue said Mr Shale's weight put "an excessive workload" on his heart.



The post-mortem examination found he was suffering with diffuse myocardial fibrosis, scarring of the heart muscle, and left ventricular hypertrophy, an enlarged left ventricle. There were also signs of hypertension.



No drugs or alcohol were found in his system.



On June 24, the day before he disappeared and possibly died, he had complained of feeling unwell, which continued when he attended the festival with friends and family.



They were staying in a Winnebago at a farm adjoining the main festival site.



On June 25, he complained of shortness of breathe, which he put down to his asthma.



He was last seen at 12.40pm on June 25 by a friend, Arthur Soames, from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.



In a statement read by the coroner he said: "Mr Shale complained of feeling unwell and said he was going to use one of the nearby toilets."



Shortly afterwards Mr Soames's son Rupert Soames, who was riding a vehicle nearby, also saw him.



But Mr Shale failed to turn up for lunch with friends and family, or make contact that afternoon and evening. His wife eventually reported him missing at 00.41am the following day, saying she last saw him near the Avalon Stage.



When Rupert Soames heard the next morning that Mr Shale was missing, he retraced his steps and came across a locked toilet, whose occupant would not respond when he knocked.



Breaking in, he found Mr Shale dead, bloodied from a burst vessel in his nose.



"His death was clearly as a result of natural causes," Mr Williams said.



"There is no evidence of a recent heart attack."











Police found the businessman's body as he was quoted in the Mail on Sunday bemoaning difficulties his party faced in recruiting new members.

He was reported to have written: "No reason to join. Lots of reasons not to."



Downing Street confirmed it had contacted Mr Shale on Saturday June 25 to warn him that the note he had written had been leaked to the newspaper.



Confusion reigned at Glastonbury after festival founder Michael Eavis said the wealthy businessman's death could be a "suicide situation".



But police dismissed the claim, with sources saying he was thought to have suffered a heart attack.



The Prime Minister said at the time he was "devastated" as he described him as a valued friend and a "big rock" in his life.



Mr Cameron said he and wife Samantha were great friends of the Shales. Outside of politics Mr Shale was the chief executive of Oxford Resources Ltd, a cost reduction company based in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, close to his home at Old Meadow House, in the village of Over Norton.



He was previously chief executive of MSG Communications and also listed on the website of eurosceptic thinktank OpenEurope as a supporter. He was a director of the Centre for Policy Studies.









Source: PA

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