A former police chief who led the UK’s crackdown on modern day slavery wrote to his estranged wife threatening to harm himself days before he was found hanged.
Paul Broadbent’s father-in-law discovered the 54-year-old body at home in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, after spending Christmas with his loving family.
The ‘champion for the vulnerable and exploited’ was declared dead at the scene, where four handwritten notes were also found.
Paul Broadbent – who led the UK’s fight against modern day slavery – was found hanged at his Barnsley home just days after threatening to harm himself
He had used prescribed medication to battle sleeping problems and anxiety for 18 months before his death, which came two months after his split with wife Fiona.
She told an inquest the ‘doting’ father seemed ‘fine’ and spent a ‘nice’ Christmas with his family.
But she became concerned when he failed to call as arranged on December 27, leading her father to check his son-in-law’s house.
Mrs Broadbent said her husband ‘touched the lives of so many’ with his work as head of the UK’s anti-slavery agency.
His sudden death was described as ‘a shattering tragedy’ by a spokesman for the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA).
The inquest at Sheffield Coroner’s Court heard how Mr Broadbent had spent Christmas with his daughter and wife.
Mrs Broadbent said she had been concerned by a letter she received from her late husband a couple of days before Christmas, which led her to believe he may have been at risk of self-harming.
But she said a family friend, who is an experienced counsellor, had spoken to him and assured her there was nothing to worry about.
Sheffield Coroner’s Court (pictured) heard how Mr Broadbent had seemed ‘fine’ days before his death, when he spent Christmas with his daughter and estranged wife
She also said the keen runner had appeared ‘fine and himself’ in the days before his death.
South Yorkshire Coroner Christopher Dorries concluded that Mr Broadbent ‘took his own life and intended to do so’.
Mr Broadbent joined South Yorkshire Police as a constable in 1985 after starting his career in Cumbria, where he was born and raised.
He left in 2010 to become an assistant chief constable at Nottinghamshire Police, before retiring from the police two years later and taking the role as chief executive of the GLAA.
Speaking after the inquest his widow Fiona Broadbent said her family’s ‘lives changed forever on December 27’.
‘I am left with a deep sense of loss and sadness which will never, ever go away. Paul was a father, son, husband, brother, cousin, friend and colleague.
‘He touched the lives of so many people who couldn’t help fall for his charm, his wit, his infectious character. You couldn’t help but like Paul. He was funny, kind, warm, friendly.
Paul Broadbent was found hanged at his South Yorkshire home when his father-in-law stopped by to check he was okay
‘Those who knew him professionally saw all of these qualities alongside an appetite to serve the public, to right injustice.
‘I will forever be proud of the contribution Paul made to keeping people safe during his 30 years as a police officer and as head of the GLAA tackling labour exploitation.
‘Paul was a family man, a father who adored and doted on his daughter and was never happier than when spending time with us.
‘My priority now is to give our daughter the love and support she needs to come to terms with the loss of her father. I will also help her understand just how much he meant to other people and the valuable work that he did, helping so many.
‘I have found real comfort in the hundreds of messages of support from Paul’s friends and colleagues, and on behalf of all family members we thank you.’
Almost £9,000 has been raised in his memory for the anti-slavery charity Unseen, which manages the national Modern Slavery Helpline and works with survivors of slavery and trafficking.
Mr Broadbent was described as ‘passionate, innovative and determined to tackle labour exploitation and modern slavery’ by Crime Minister Victoria Atkins in the days following his death.
After the inquest a spokesman for the GLAA said: ‘The profound shock so many of us still feel for Paul’s sudden and tragic loss is mirrored only by a deep sense of sadness and bewilderment at the circumstances of his death.
‘To us, he will always be the charismatic leader who epitomised everything we stand for at the GLAA.
‘Today, we remain as determined and focused as ever on ensuring Paul’s legacy is built upon by making the GLAA a highly renowned and respected law enforcement and compliance agency, dedicated to protecting vulnerable and exploited workers.’
- For confidential support in the UK, call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see samaritans.org