Heywood MP Jim Dobbin 'died from drinking spirits'

Jim Dobbin MP
Image caption Jim Dobbin had been an MP since 1997

An MP from Greater Manchester died after drinking a fatal amount of spirits during an official dinner in Poland, an inquest has heard.

Jim Dobbin, who was the Labour MP for Heywood and Middleton, had a shot with each course of the meal last September.

The 73-year-old complained of feeling ill and went to bed after colleagues told him to "sleep it off".

Coroner Simon Nelson recorded a conclusion of death by misadventure and paid tribute to an "irreplaceable" MP.

A post-mortem examination revealed former microbiologist Mr Dobbin had an alcohol level of 399mg per 100ml of blood - nearly five times the drink-drive limit in England.

Food was also found in his lungs, which blocked his breathing.

'Perfect day'

His wife Patricia said guests had been invited to join in the tradition of consuming a shot of Polish spirit with each course of the meal.

She said: "He told some friends he began to feel dizzy so they brought him upstairs to the room at around 10.30pm.

"His colleagues told him he just needed some sleep so I took off his tie and his shoes and was soon asleep."

Mrs Dobbin became concerned about her husband when she was unable to wake him. He died less than an hour after being admitted to hospital in the early hours of 7 September.

Mr Dobbin, who was elected MP for Heywood and Middleton in 1997, had been on a trip, organised by the Council of Europe, to the town of Slupsk.

Paying tribute to her husband, Mrs Dobbin added: "He was having the perfect day. He never stopped - he was always busy and after he died, I had 940 cards of sympathy from all over the world."

Coroner Mr Nelson: "When I met him I found him every bit as engaging as has been described. The area could not have wished for a more appropriate person to serve their needs.

"I believe he will be irreplaceable and I can't imagine any finer attributes than those described by those who knew him."

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