Mystery as post mortem fails to explain death of British diplomat, 52, whose body was found in woods four months after he vanished while jogging near his £1m Hampshire home
- Richard Morris disappeared on May 6 after leaving his £1m home in Hampshire
- The former ambassador was found four months later in a forest three miles away
- Despite a post-mortem being carried out, it remains unclear as to how he died
Mystery continues to surround the death of a British diplomat whose body was found in a forest four months after he vanished near his £1million home.
Richard Morris, 52, was last seen going out for a jog near his home in Hampshire in May.
Nearly four months later, a member of the public found his body in Alice Holt Forest, around three miles from his home.
An inquest has opened into the father and former ambassador to Nepal’s death.
Senior coroner Christopher Wilkinson heard a post-mortem failed to establish a cause of death.
Police, who are not treating the death as suspicious, had previously spent days combing the dense woodland for any sign of the married father of three.
Richard Morris, 52, and family. He married Alison in 1992 and they have a daughter and two sons
Richard Morris vanished after leaving his £1million Hampshire home in May, his body was found in a forest less than three miles away on August 31
Mr Morris was the ambassador to Nepal between 2015 and November 2019 and accompanied the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry, on a tour of the country in 2016.
He was last seen on the morning of May 6, having left his detached home in the village of Bentley, which sits by the Hampshire and Surrey border, to go running.
Police spent days combing through Alice Holt Forest after the keen runner’s disappearance and on August 31 his body was discovered in the woodland site.
The father-of-three was formerly the UK Ambassador to Nepal between 2015 and 2019 (pictured with Prince Harry in 2016)
The forest, around two and a half miles from Mr Morris’ home, is where he would regularly go for park runs.
Christopher Wilkinson, senior coroner for Hampshire, said he will gather reports from Mr Morris’ GP as he investigates how the diplomat died.
At Winchester Coroner’s Court, Mr Wilkinson said: ‘The body of a male believed to be Mr Morris was found at Alice Holt enclosure on August 31.
A post-mortem on Mr Morris’ body has failed to ascertain a cause of death at this stage, an inquest has heard
‘Identification was carried out by DNA and at the time of this inquest opening the deceased has been formally identified.
‘The brief circumstances are that Mr Morris was located deceased by a member of the public, having been reported missing from his home in May.
‘A post-mortem was carried out by Russell Delaney, a consultant forensic pathologist, and in his opinion the cause of death is unascertained.’
Mr Wilkinson set a full inquest for June 23 next year.
Last week his devastated family paid tribute to the ‘loving husband and father’.
They said: ‘From childhood European holidays via a US university scholarship to Ambassador to Nepal, Richard loved to travel.
‘Described as ‘funny, kind and smart’ by his diplomatic colleagues, he worked for the FCO with professionalism and integrity for nearly 30 years.
‘His empathy and kindness to those around him earned him respect wherever he went, evidenced by the messages of love, friendship and support we have received from all over the world.
Hampshire Police scoured Alice Holt Forest in May, following the senior diplomat’s disappearance, but he wasn’t found until August
‘Richard was always a runner, cheerfully describing himself as ‘more of an enthusiastic weekend trail runner than podium finisher’.
‘Nevertheless he had completed five marathons on four continents, most recently in Nepal, where he raised money for Changing Faces – the UK charity of which he was a trustee.
‘But above all else, Richard was a family man. A loving and loyal husband, father, son and brother. He showed us the world but he was our world and we are devastated by his loss.
The former ambassador to Nepal was described as ‘funny, kind and smart’ by his diplomatic colleagues
‘We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the organisations and individuals who have supported us over the past few months.’
Mr Morris had been due to take up the position of British High Commissioner to Fiji in July.
He had previously been head of the Pacific department in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and held senior diplomatic posts including in Australia and Mexico.
A missing person appeal was launched on Thursday, a spokesman for Hampshire Constabulary said: ‘We’ve been making enquiries but are now turning to you for your help
Mr Morris took up his post in Nepal six months after the devastating earthquake that decimated many parts of the country and claimed some 9,000 lives.
Mr Morris married his wife Alison in 1992 and they have one daughter and two sons. In his spare time, Mr Morris enjoyed long-distance running, reading, travel, music and spending time with his family.
Alison was his girlfriend at school. The couple went off to different universities but resumed their relationship in their early 20s.
Missing Diplomat Richard Morris’ illustrious career in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Richard Morris was born on November 1, 1967 in Worcestershire.
He studied for a BA Hons in English literature from Aberystwyth University (which included a one-year scholarship to the University of Illinois).
He was awarded an MBA from Aston University.
He undertook contract work for Touche Ross Management Consultancy as part of his MBA.
He entered the Foreign and Commonwealth Office via an open competition (1990).
Richard Morris, 52, (pictured) was last seen at 10.50am on Wednesday, May 6, in Alton. He went missing from his home in Bentley that day
Mr Morris married wife Alison in 1992 and they have one daughter and two sons.
He has held multiple roles in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office over a nearly 30-year career.
Assistant Desk Officer, Non-Proliferation and Defence Department (1990 to 1991).
Assistant Desk Officer, Cultural Relations Department (1991 to 1992); undertook a temporary duty to the United Kingdom Mission to United Nations, New York (1993).
Third Secretary (Political), British High Commission, Ottawa (1993 to 1996).
Second Secretary (Political), British High Commission, Bridgetown (1996 to 2000).
Head of Resource Accounting and Budgeting Team (2000 to 2001).
Head of Assistance Group in Consular Directorate in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (2001 to 2004).
Deputy head of mission and consul general at the British Embassy in Mexico City (January 2005 to June 2008).
Between 2008 and 2012 he was consul general in Sydney and director general of trade and investment for the Australasia region.
Mr Morris was head of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s pacific department from 2013 to 2015.
UK Ambassador to Nepal between 2015 and 2019.
He is due to begin a new role as British High Commissioner to the Republic of Fiji in July 2020.
He is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (FCIM) and of the Royal Society for Arts, Manufacture and Commerce (FRSA).