A coroner today recorded a verdict of suicide over the death of Tory MP Owen Paterson’s wife who hanged herself in woods after making plans to meet her family – and left no final note for her loved ones.
Aintree racecourse chairman Rose Paterson, 63, was found dead by a police officer in woodland near her family home in Ellesmere, near Wrexham, in the early hours of June 24.
She had googled suicide methods three times before the tragedy, her son Felix told the inquest.
The wife of Tory MP Owen Paterson, Rose Paterson, pictured together, died on July 24
Mr Paterson, a former cabinet minister under David Cameron and Conservative MP for North Shropshire, raised the alarm and later revealed that his wife had been found dead at their constituency home in the early hours of June 24 (pictured)
‘We are still a long way from beginning to come to terms with her death’: Owen Paterson’s full statement
The Coroner’s verdict confirming that my wife Rose committed suicide by hanging is absolutely tragic for me, our family and all who knew her.
We were married for 40 very happy years. Rose will be remembered as a devoted, loving wife, mother and grandmother, as well as a most successful professional in her varied careers in the arts, charity and racing.
We are still a long way from beginning to come to terms with her death.
I would like to thank the Shropshire Coroner and West Mercia Police for the very sensitive manner in which they have handled this tragedy.
I am now horribly aware that 18 people commit suicide every day in the UK and I intend to become more involved in suicide-prevention strategies. If I can help to prevent just one family going through the extreme anguish that our family is currently suffering, I will have done something really worthwhile.
I ask everybody to respect our privacy at this desperately sad time.
Mr Paterson said in a statement after today’s verdict: ‘The Coroner’s verdict confirming that my wife Rose committed suicide by hanging is absolutely tragic for me, our family and all who knew her.
‘We were married for 40 very happy years. Rose will be remembered as a devoted, loving wife, mother and grandmother, as well as a most successful professional in her varied careers in the arts, charity and racing. We are still a long way from beginning to come to terms with her death.’
The inquest was told Mrs Paterson had not left any note and had made plans to travel overseas to see one of their three adult children.
In a statement to the inquest, North Shropshire MP Mr Paterson, who attended the hearing by video-link, said his wife had been due to remotely chair an Aintree board meeting on June 24.
In a separate statement to the inquest, which was read to the court by Senior Shropshire Coroner John Ellery, Mr Paterson said he made a 999 call from his office after initial searches failed to find his wife, who had not answered four phone calls.
Family members were concerned Mrs Paterson may have been taken ill and had been unable to summon help, the MP said.
The inquest heard toxicology tests made no significant findings.
Pathologist Dr Joanne Stafford confirmed she died from hanging.
Speaking today, Mr Paterson thanked the coroner and West Mercia Police for their ‘sensitive’ handling on the tragedy.
He added: ‘I am now horribly aware that 18 people commit suicide every day in the UK and I intend to become more involved in suicide-prevention strategies.
‘If I can help to prevent just one family going through the extreme anguish that our family is currently suffering, I will have done something really worthwhile.
‘I ask everybody to respect our privacy at this desperately sad time.’
Mrs Paterson died by hanging, her inquest heard today
Recording his verdict, Senior Shropshire Coroner John Ellery said Mrs Paterson’s intentions could be established from the fact she was found in a remote area, and her internet searches made in May and June.
The coroner said: ‘On the basis that I am satisfied that Mrs Paterson did take her own life, I do not need to investigate the reason why.
‘I record a conclusion of suicide and that Mrs Paterson died on or about the 24th of June.’
Mrs Paterson was well known throughout the horse racing industry and served as the Jockey Club’s first female chairman.
As Aintree chairman, she achieved record visitor numbers for the Grand National, and was praised for inviting 30,000 local people for a free day’s racing.
She was passionate about animal welfare, helping to redesign Aintree’s fences to make them safer for horses and, at the Jockey Club, overseeing a review of the use of whips.
At the time of her death, neighbours described the racing executive as a huge racing enthusiast and a lovely lady who would always greet everyone with a welcoming smile.
Mr and Mrs Paterson have three children, a daughter Evie, right with her parents, and two sons Ned and Felix
Grandmother-of-two Rachel Mottram, 65, a local farmer said: ‘It is so sad, such a shock.
‘She was a lovely lady. I don’t have quite the right word – she was a true lady. It is so sad for everyone on the district.
‘She used to regularly ride past the farm on her horse and there was always a smile and a greeting. She was a huge horse enthusiast.’
A close friend, who wouldn’t give her name, said: ‘We are still in shock. She was wonderful. She was a wonderful person with such a welcoming smile.’
Mrs Paterson was the daughter of the 4th Viscount Ridley, and sister of the current viscount, the Times science writer Matt Ridley.
She read History at New Hall, Cambridge, before working as a ‘stable lad’ in Newmarket and doing a course in art history in Venice.
She served in senior roles at Sotheby’s and spent ten years as the Daily Telegraph’s Northern art critic before being appointed Aintree chair in 2014.
In a statement issued shortly after Mrs Paterson’s death, Sandy Dudgeon, Senior Steward of The Jockey Club, described her as a wonderful person who enjoyed participating in racing at grassroots level.
‘She will be missed greatly for the person she was,’ Mr Dudgeon said.
For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details.
The Patersons also have two son, Felix and Ned, pictured left to right