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Inquest into death of head of legal records suicide verdict

David White, the former head of legal at Suffolk County Council, took his life because he could not cope with the demands being placed on him, an inquest heard this week.

White died on 4 April at the age of 51. His body was found in woods near Butley, after the police received a call expressing concerns at his welfare.

According to a report by the BBC, the inquest was told that White was under intense pressure as Suffolk implemented a programme of cutbacks.

In a statement to the inquest Eric Whitfield, former assistant director of scrutiny and monitoring at the authority, said White had expressed concern over the consultation process carried out over the cuts, in particular in relation to how they would affect library services.

The former head of legal was also “uncomfortable” with then chief executive Andrea Hill’s plans to make appointments using delegated powers. According to Whitfield, he felt they should have been made by the full council.

After his death, the local authority launched an investigation into Hill’s conduct amid whistle-blowing allegations.

In a note written before his death, White wrote: "Dear Andrea, I just wanted you to know that my death is not in any way or sense directed at you personally or meant as a comment on your leadership of the council or the new strategic direction.

"It is simply that I have been unable to cope with the demands being placed upon me."

The investigation cleared Hill of bullying and being responsible for White’s death.

It also cleared her of making dishonest expenses claims. However, Hill went on to leave her post with immediate effect, receiving compensation worth more than £218,000.

A verdict of suicide was recorded by the Greater Suffolk coroner, Peter Dean. White had worked as a solicitor at Suffolk since 1985.