A SENIOR diplomat who suffered from “extreme stress” after working on the Coronavirus crisis and Harry Dunn case was found hanged from a tree, an inquest heard.
Richard Morris, 52, vanished while running near his home in Hampshire in 2020, but his body was not found until three months later.
The former ambassador to Nepal had been working long hours to co-ordinate briefings to minister when the UK government was first battling the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Morris was part of a team that had worked on the Harry Dunn case, after the teenager was mowed down by Anne Sacoolas, near RAF Croughton in 2019.
An inquest into his death today heard that he had been “totally unprotected” from the demands of working on the covid taskforce.
His wife, Alison Morris, claimed that her husband feared that there was not enough time to process information and she had told him that he wasn’t “responsible for Covid-19.”
She told the inquest: “I think it felt to him like he was being told to man up and be more resilient”.
Alison believes that as a result Mr Morris was “desperate” to keep on top if what was happening and had “no real time off.”
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He was last seen running near his home, which he often did to relieve stress, on May 6, 2020, and was later found hanged in Alice Holt Forest three months later.
The couple had returned to the UK after several years working in Nepal, and MR Morris worked for the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London for several months ahead of their expected posting to Fiji.
His wife explained that he was “proud” to work for the FCDO, and found it “varied, stimulating and compelling.”
Winchester Coroner's Court, Hants, heard that he had struggled to adjust to his return to working in London.
During his work within the Covid-19 taskforce, he was helping to co-ordinate briefings for ministers, and worked in the stressful period while Prime Minister Boris Johnson was in intensive care.
His wife added: “It was the most stressful job he had ever done. He was extremely stressed.
“I don't know when the night sweats started but I told Richard he should see a doctor. He said that he was just stressed. The bed would be completely drenched.
“On top of that, the potential fallout from any error he might make was likely to be very public.
“If any information error got past him the Government or the Civil Service would be torn apart.”
After vanishing while out for a run, police began an investigation and organised extensive searches.
When his body was found then Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab broke the news to staff that he had died, and described him as an “outstanding diplomat” who had “served his country with distinction.”
Raab said: “We've had the tragic news that they have found the body of our much-liked colleague Richard Morris.
“I am deeply saddened by his death and my heart goes out to his wife and his three children.
“Many of you will feel this personally. He served his country with distinction as an outstanding diplomat who embodied the best of Her Majesty's government.
“He was an immensely well-liked colleague and he will be hugely missed.”
Peter Jones, COO of the Foreign Office at the time, said many colleagues paid tribute to Mr Morris, describing him as a “true diplomat” and “the very best of us”.
The inquest continues.
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