Norfolk News

25 February 2002


"Death riddle of eminent scientist"

12 February 2002 19:35

"The death of a distinguished University of East Anglia researcher has shocked work colleagues who last night paid tribute to their "brilliant" fellow academic.

Police confirmed that the body of a man found on Monday at a house in Marlborough Road, Norwich, was that of 40-year-old Dr Ian Langford – a leader and senior researcher in the field of environmental risk at UEA. Emergency services were called to his house, just off Magdalen Road, at around 6.50pm. A post-mortem carried out yesterday by Home Office pathologist, Dr Michael Heath, proved inconclusive. But detectives said they were not treating the death as suspicious.

Dr Langford's death is the latest in a series of tragedies over the past 16 months that have claimed the lives of three top UEA academics – Prof WG Sebald, Sir Malcolm Bradbury and Prof Lorna Sage.

The eminent scientist, who started working at the UEA in 1993 after gaining his PhD for research on childhood leukaemia and infection, was praised by his colleagues yesterday.

Prof Kerry Turner, director of the UEA's centre for social and economic research in the global environment, said: "We are all very shocked by this appalling news.

"Ian was without doubt one of Europe's leading experts on environmental risk, specialising in links between human health and environmental risk.

"He was one of the most brilliant colleagues I have ever had, both as an individual researcher and as a team player.

"He will be greatly missed at UEA both as a brilliant academic and as a friendly and approachable colleague."

A Chartered Statistician and fellow of the Royal Statistical Society, Dr Langford gained a first class honours degree in environmental sciences at the UEA before starting his PhD.

He also previously advised the World Health Organisation on public health issues and spoke to the EDP about a number of matters that concerned him.

In March last year, Dr Langford told an EDP reporter that he blamed modern farming and meat processing methods for recent rises in the number of food poisoning cases.

Norwich police spokesman, Nina Terry, said the police were not treating the death as suspicious.

"Following a post-mortem examination at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, results of toxicology tests are awaited.

"However, at this stage the death of Mr Langford is not believed to be suspicious."

Staff at a One Stop Shop in Magdalen Road, near to where Dr Langford lived, said the UEA researcher was a regular customer.

Three members of staff, who all asked not to be named, identified Dr Langford from his picture.

One of the staff members said: 'He would usually come in on a daily basis ...

'He was in here a week last Sunday at about 2.50pm when he was caught streaking in the shop. All he had on was a jumper and a pair of shoes.'

Another member of staff, who was working that same day, said: 'I asked him to leave and told him that if he came in again he would have to put his clothes on. He was polite enough and just left the shop.'

The manager of the store, who asked not to be named, said she reported Dr Langford's behaviour to the police after it had been recorded on CCTV and was told by detectives he had arrested for the offence.

But last night police would not confirm that he had been arrested or cautioned over the incident.

'The last time I saw him was this Wednesday when he came in to buy some cigarettes and a few other bits and bobs. He was fine and didn't cause any trouble,' said the shop manager.

For the UEA's academic community, Dr Langford's death is another untimely blow.

Critically acclaimed author Prof WG Sebald was killed on the A146 at Framingham Pigot last December after his car was in collision with a tanker.

His death came as he was tipped for greatness and seen by many as likely to win the Nobel Prize for Literature."