Tory MP Priti Patel: Gay comedian who had relationship with dead teen should be named

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A gay comedian who an inquest found had a relationship with a male fashion student who later killed himself should be named, Conservative MP Priti Patel has said.

Ms Patel, MP for Witham in Essex, was commenting on the inquest of Ben Cowburn.

The comedian, referred to only as “Mr X” to protect his identity, allegedly showered the teenager with gifts before taking him to drink and drug-fuelled parties.

Mr Cowburn had moved to London from his hometown of Truro in Cornwall to study at the Fashion Retail Academy when he met the comedian and they formed a relationship in September 2009.

The 18-year-old took a fatal drug overdose in December 2010 at the Longreach mental health unit near Redruth, Cornwall.

Scotland Yard was made aware of allegations that Mr Cowburn “may have been the victim of a serious sexual assault”. But after interviewing nurses involved in his care, the Met decided there was “no conclusive evidence”.

DC David Gadsby from the Metropolitan Police said: “One evening Ben went to a party at this man’s house. There was a lot of drugs and alcohol there.

“At about 4am, Ben wanted to leave but a cab was too expensive. The man offered a room and Ben went to sleep. When he woke up this man was lying in bed next to him.”

Coroner Dr Emma Carlyon made the decision to protect the star’s identity after talks with lawyers representing the NHS and the Cowburn family.

They decided that it would be unfair to name the comedian as he had not been questioned, cautioned or arrested by the police, despite them being aware of the allegations. He was not asked to give evidence to the inquest.

Criticising the move, MP Priti Patel said: “Nobody should be going down the legal route to prevent the disclosure of basic facts around a court hearing.

“The public need to know that key evidence and key facts are not being kept from them.”

The Mail reports she said that “deals being done behind closed doors preventing basic facts coming into the public domain”.

Psychiatrist Peter Jefferys told the inquest last Friday that Mr Cowburn was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following his experiences in London.

Dr Jefferys, who carried out a review of the case as an independent expert, told the inquest the medical care for Mr Cowburn at Longreach had fallen below the required standard.

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