Wife of MP Owen Paterson killed herself in woodland at their home, inquest hears

The wife of north Shropshire MP Owen Paterson took her own life in woodland at their home, an inquest into her death recorded today.

Rose Paterson
Rose Paterson

Rose Emily Paterson, the chairman of Aintree Racecourse, went missing sometime after her son, Edward, woke her from her sleep in her chair and kissed her goodnight on the evening of June 22.

She was eventually found after a major search of land at their home at Sodylt, near Ellesmere, in the early hours of June 24.

Senior coroner for Shropshire and Wrekin, Mr John Ellery, told the inquest, at Shirehall in Shrewsbury, he was satisfied that Mrs Paterson, 63, had taken her own life and recorded a verdict of suicide.

Members of her family listened to the proceedings remotely and a spokesman with them asked the press attending the hearing to respect their privacy at "this terrible time".

The inquest was told that Mrs Paterson had a previous history of anxiety and depression but in his statement to the hearing, Mr Paterson said his wife had not been suffering from depression at the time and had not been prescribed any anti-depressants.

He said that they had spent lockdown together at their home but he said he returned to London in mid June, returning to spent the weekend at home on June 19.

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"I drove back to London on June 22 with Rose due to chair an Aintree board meeting later in the week and then join myself, our son Felix, his wife and their daughter, for dinner in London to celebrate my birthday," Mr Paterson's statement said.

She was then to have spent the next week in France with her daughter Evie, the inquest heard.

The couple spoke to each other twice a day on the phone but on June 23 Mr Paterson rang his wife four times and left text messages with no success.

"My son rang me from home, he had not seen her all day and couldn't reach her mobile," he said.

Owen Paterson

The MP and his son asked neighbours to help search for Mrs Paterson.

"We were concerned she might had had a heart attack or stroke or been injured in the woods at home," he said.

Mr Paterson rang the police and drove home.

When he arrived home in the early hours of the morning police and search and rescue teams were there and he was told his wife's body had been found.

"I asked police not to move her as I wanted to see her. It was evident to me she had taken her own life."

Son Edward, who had moved into the family home during lockdown said he last saw his mother on June 22 when they had had dinner together.

He said: "I remember 'Ma' laughing. She was talking about going to France to see my sister.

"At about 10.30pm I went to say goodnight. She was asleep in her chair. I woke her and told her she was tired and to go to bed. She said something quite lovely, I kissed her on the forehead and went to bed," his statement said.

Friend Louise Lane had been riding with Mrs Paterson on June 22 and said she was acting out of character later in the day.

"She had a couple of horses she would put outside in the hot weather and she hadn't done this. I also saw her in her vegetable patch at home and she didn't acknowledge me which was strange," she said.

"She was a happy-go-lucky person who never put on airs and graces. She was just a lovely person," she added.

Owen Paterson pays tribute to wife Rose

Owen Paterson has vowed to get involved in suicide prevention strategies after his wife killed herself at their family home.

Owen Paterson said if he could help to prevent just one family going through the extreme anguish that our family is currently suffering, he would have done something worthwhile.

He revealed that he and his family were still a long way from coming to terms with her death.

Rose Paterson, 63, was found after a major search, on land at their home near Ellesmere in the early hours of June 24.

Senior coroner for Shropshire and Telford, Mr John Ellery said Mrs Paterson had taken her own life.

In a statement Mr Paterson said: "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. "

He paid tribute to Mrs Paterson.

"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."

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