Asylum campaigner dies suddenly in St Albans flat

A YOUNG man who devoted his career to helping asylum seekers died suddenly as he took a bath in his St Albans home.

Neil Walden, 36, was found dead by his partner on July 1 when she arrived at their Beaconsfield Road flat with her mother who had planned to stay the weekend.

At the inquest into his death held yesterday (Wednesday), Herts Coroner Edward Thomas ruled that he died from natural causes, namely sudden adult death syndrome.

The inquest heard that Mr Walden, who was born in Cambridge, worked in Bedford as an immigration team leader helping people seeking asylum but his job was in jeopardy as the centre had been earmarked for closure.

On the day before his death he had visited London as part of the attempts to retain the centre and when his body was found his laptop was switched on in the living room showing emails to union members about the closure.

Although he had been feeling a bit down about the situation, his partner Harriet Glover told the inquest that he was in good health and everything had appeared to be normal when she left for work in her role as a teacher on the day of his death.

Mr Walden had even phoned Miss Glover on her morning break to tell her that he had tidied the flat ahead of his mother-in-law’s visit and he had planned to travel to Cambridge to visit the restaurant he owned.

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But he had not responded to phone calls from his friend after midday and Miss Glover arrived home at around 4.15pm to find him in the bath with his face underwater and a book next to him. Emergency services were called and he was pronounced dead.

Dr Aidan O’Reilly, who carried out the post-mortem, found evidence of heart failure and he said it had been impossible to narrow the cause of death down any further than sudden adult death syndrome which covers a range of conditions in apparently fit and healthy young people.

Miss Glover described Mr Walden as a “man with a passion for life and justice who loved helping people.”