Tories in Turmoil: Peer's wife died from severe shotgun wounds

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LADY Caithness, the wife of the former Minister for Aviation and Shipping, died from shotgun wounds three days before her 41st birthday, the opening of an inquest into her death was told yesterday, writes Ian McKinnon.

The family's doctor, John Goves, told the hearing at Oxford that he was called to her home in Chipping Norton on Saturday and found her dead.

The Oxfordshire coroner, Nicholas Gardiner, outlined the events surrounding her death to which Dr Goves simply replied 'yes' during the four-minute hearing.

Dr Goves was called to the home at about 6.45pm and taken to the main bedroom, where he certified Lady Caithness dead. She was lying on her back with severe head wounds consistent with injuries from a shotgun.

A shotgun was still between her knees. Lord Caithness, who resigned his ministerial post on Sunday, was known to have kept a number of sporting guns.

Mr Gardiner asked if the injuries appeared to be recent and whether death had occurred shortly before the doctor arrived, to which he replied 'yes' to both questions.

The coroner adjourned the hearing and released the body for cremation.