A former leader of Islington Council died after choking on a piece of food. An inquest held into his death was told that he choked whilst having dinner in a restaurant with friends.

Steve Hitchins, 68, had also been a chairman of the Whittington Hospital. A statement from fellow Whittington board member Jonathan Gardner was read to St Pancras Coroner’s Court.

He had been sitting next to Mr Hitchins at the “social dinner”. wrote Mr Gardner.

“The evening was a very positive and happy time. Steve was on good form and seemed well,” he said. “At some point during the meal, he covered his mouth with a napkin.

Very shortly after that, seconds rather than minutes, he passed out.”

Mr Gardner tried to administer the Heimlich manoeuvre to help Mr Hitchins while another person called the ambulance.

Paramedics arrived and took over from Mr Gardner.

In a statement read out in court, lead paramedic John Hunter said that he examined Mr Hitchins and found a “small piece of material” lodged in the throat.

He was taken to the Whittington where he was found to have suffered a severe brain injury due to a lack of oxygen and he died at the hospital later that evening.

Mr Hitchins had served as Liberal Democrat councillor for St Peter’s ward for 16 years including seven years as leader of Islington Council.

Source: Camden Journal