Top Tory's festival death a mystery
Published 27/06/2011 | 15:22
A pathologist has been unable to determine how a senior Tory whose body was found in a Glastonbury Festival VIP toilet died, an inquest heard.
Christopher Shale, 56, a close friend of David Cameron, was discovered slumped in a cubicle in the backstage area on Sunday morning.
The Prime Minister's constituency chairman had been reported as missing by worried family members at 900-acre Worthy Farm on Saturday.
The inquest, which lasted just a few minutes, was opened and adjourned until a later date by East Somerset Coroner Tony Williams.
The hearing, which was held at Wells Town Hall, heard that Mr Shale was found within the festival's Orange Zone and declared dead at 9.17am by an emergency care practitioner. Mr Shale's wife formally identified his body later that morning.
Coroner's officer Ben Batley told the inquest that a post-mortem examination was carried out on Sunday and the preliminary cause of death was "unascertained". Mr Batley said further toxicology tests will be carried out to establish how Mr Shale died.
The coroner said that he was adjourning the inquest until a later date, adding: "As a result of me having opened this inquest I am content to release the body to the family." No members of Mr Shale's family were present at the inquest.
It is feared Mr Shale's body may have lain undiscovered for up to 10 hours. 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 to warn him that the note he had written had been leaked to the newspaper. Mr Cameron said he was "devastated" as he described Mr Shale as a valued friend and a "big rock" in his life.
Confusion reigned at the site 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 is thought to have suffered a heart attack.