It is being reported that the Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Dr Ashok Kumar has been found dead in his constituency home this afternoon. When he staff failed to contact him on the phone a workman was sent around to his house.
He was one of the 1997 intake was a fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers, a Chartered Engineer and a Member of the Energy Institute. Born in India he was far from being a career politician but someone who was an expert in his field before taking to a career in politics.Having been a research fellow at Imperial College London from 1982-5, before becoming a research scientist for British Steel from 1985 until his election.
He had served as PPS to Hilary Benn while the latter was international development minister but his experience in the fields of science will be sorely missed in the House.
Update The BBC are now reporting this as a 'sudden accidental' death.
Announcing the death in the House Speaker John Bercow said:
"Ashok was a most assiduous Member, much respected by the House and by professional background a very fine chemical engineer.
"I am sure members on all sides of the House will join me in mourning the loss of a colleague and extending our sympathy to the honourable member's family and friends."
Hilary Benn for who he was PPS added:
"It is very hard to believe that Ashok is no longer with us.
"Ashok was a pioneer, a doughty fighter for his constituents and a Labour man through and through who cared deeply for others.
"He was also fearless in pursuit of what he saw as right. I came to value his friendship, his loyalty and his sense of fun over the many years we worked together."