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A United Kingdom diplomat was found dead in the forest. He reportedly suffered from extreme stress while working for the government's Covid-19 taskforce before going missing, an inquest has heard.

The body of Richard Morris, 52, was discovered near his home in Bentley, Hampshire, in August 2020, almost four months after he went missing.

Morris is the former ambassador to Nepal, he worked 15-hour shifts for six or seven days a week for the Foreign Office. He began to suffer from night sweats, and remained worried that he was going to make a mistake that could land him in prison. Morris had been under extreme stress working on the sensitive Harry Dunn case and the coronavirus crisis, an inquest has heard.

Morris led a team involved in the case of Dunn, the teenage motorcyclist killed in a crash outside the military base RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire. Anne Sacoolas, the American citizen accused of Dunn’s death, flew home after the crash, triggering tension between the US and UK. Morris was then selected for a government Covid-19 team.

Morris’ wife Allison said her husband was afraid there was not enough time to process information in the fast-moving period and if there would be any error, the government "would be torn apart in the press". Morris was "desperate" to remian on top of his game with "no real time off."

On the morning of May 6, 2020, the diplomat went for a run, leaving behind his mobile phone after making his wife a cup of tea. When he did not return home. A search was launched, however, his body was not found until Aug. 31 in woodland at the Alice Holt Forest, 2.5 miles from his home.

Det Insp Matthew Gillooly, of Hampshire constabulary, admitted that an error had been made. On the second day of the search, police were in the area where Morris’ body was later found and officers were just reportedly 100 meters from the spot. However, they only searched two-thirds of the assigned sector, resulting in Morris not being found. Police did not treat his death as suspicious.

Morris was about to take the position of British high commissioner to Fiji in July 2020. He was excited about the new job but could not prepare for it because of the Dunn case and the Covid taskforce.

His wife said, "The responsibility of [Covid-19] weighed heavily on Richard and more than once I had to tell Richard he didn’t cause Covid. I can’t remember exactly when the night sweats started, but they were frequent."

Morris also became troubled over the public travel guidance he had written. "He was extremely stressed and thought this might amount to misconduct in a public office. The hours got longer and when working from home he didn’t have time to eat with us. He could not sit still and would not watch anything apart from Antiques Roadshow," his wife added.

police line crime scene
A representational image of a crime scene. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

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