A FORMER bodyguard to Tony Blair hung himself from the banisters of his Camberley home, the Surrey Coroner, Mr Michael Burgess, was told at an inquest at Woking on Tuesday.

But Mr Burgess recorded an open verdict on 47-year-old Metropolitan policeman William Lloyd after hearing that no notes were found and he had never indicated that he was going to take his own life. The Coroner said that preparations made for the hanging, including fetching a piece of rope from the garage and a chair from the kitchen, were not sufficient evidence for a suicide verdict.

Mr Lloyd had been with the Met for 27 years. In a statement read at the inquest his widow Gill said they had been married and living at Deepwell Drive, Camberley, for a year. He had been divorced three years ago and still maintained regular contact with his two children.

Mrs Lloyd said her husband was healthy and she did not know of anything worrying him. He was quite a private person, but did have a sense of humour. In the last week of his life he had said that his body was telling him to slow down.

The night before his death in May he had been to Buckinghamshire and had gone with his ex-wife to a leaving event and music concert at his daughter's school. Earlier that day he told her by phone that he had visited a private doctor who had prescribed some "happy pills."

"He said he could feel them working already and he sounded very positive," she said.

Mrs Lloyd picked him up at Sunningdale station just before midnight. He looked very tired but said he had had a lovely time and was proud of his daughter, who he knew would do well at university.

She heard him get up to go the toilet at about 2 am and when she woke at 6.45 he was not there. She opened the bedroom door and saw a red and white rope across the stairs over the banister. After stepping under it she saw her husband hanging with his feet well off the floor. In the downstairs lobby was a kitchen chair. She could see he was dead, but did still feel for a pulse.

Mrs Lloyd said her husband had never mentioned taking his own life and she still did not know what was going through or on his mind at that time. "We had so many plans for the future and everything to look forward to," she added.

Police colleague DC Graham Burns said Mr Lloyd had told him he felt pretty down and knew he had to snap himself out of it. He could not put his finger on why he was low.

His boss DCI Peter Thurlow of Scotland Yard said the dead man was changing his job and was looking forward to a new role in July. He was stunned when he heard what had happened.

Cherie Blair was among the mourners at Mr Lloyd's funeral.