Woman celebrating her 50th dies after eating oysters for birthday meal at Quaglino's

Source of Article:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1186319/Woman-celebrating-50th-dies-eating-oysters-birthday-meal-Quaglinos.html

By Christian Gysin and Claire Ellicott
Last updated at 4:33 PM on 22nd May 2009

A leading London restaurant has been closed after a 50-year-old woman diner died of suspected food poisoning days after eating there.

Denise Martin was having a meal with five friends last Saturday night at Sir Terence Conran's flagship restaurant Quaglino and was taken ill 48 hours later.

It is understood she complained of stomach pains and then suffered severe vomiting and died at her home just three days after the 50th birthday celebration at the celebrity haunt.

Managers at Quaglino's in London decided to shut for two days this week after diner Denise Martin, 50, died three days after celebrating her 50th birthday there

The restaurant voluntarily closed for two days following Ms Martin's death.

Environmental health officers have also launched an investigation.

Today her devastated partner - 52-year-old taxi driver Roy Johal - was comforting her two sons Harry, aged 18, and ten-year-old Alfie at the home the couple shared in Sidcup, Kent.

The pair lived together for more than 20 years and today Mr Johal refused to blame the restaurant for her death.

He explained: 'Denise went to the restaurant on Saturday night with five girlfriends to celebrate her 50th birthday.

'They all ate oysters which Denise had never eaten before.

'She was fine all day Sunday but on Monday she was violently sick.

'She went to bed and told the family she had a stomach bug and to keep away from her.

'She asked for some water and told me to sleep on the settee which I did. She told our sons to stay out of the bedroom so they didn't catch anything.

'Then on Tuesday morning I went in to see her and she had passed away.

'I don't know, the kids don't know, the poor coroner doesn't know just how Denise died.

'They have released her body so we can cremate her but they will do further tests to find out what happened.

'I want to stress is that we have never muttered a word of blame at this restaurant.

'My brother owns restaurants and he told me there is no way of knowing if you are eating bad oysters. It doesn't even touch the sides of your throat so it's not like you can taste it - it goes straight down.

'I'm just trying to come to terms with losing her at the moment, we're all devastated.
'Denise was beautiful, she had just celebrated her 50th birthday but looked 25.

'She wasnít a conventional heroine -  she didnít climb Everest or anything like that -  but she was so special to us.

'At a time when most mums leave their kids and go to work, she gave up work to look after them and spent all her time with them.

'We donít know whether she had food poisoning or was just suddenly ill.

Four of Ms Martin's friends who also ate oysters have not been taken ill after dining at the famous eaterie which is in Mayfair, Central London, and is a favourite with stars such as Sir Elton John and Mick Jagger.

Today it emerged that an inquest was opened and adjourned into her death on Thursday and no cause of death was established during a post mortem carried out on Wednesday.

Quaglino's refused to comment on the death but a member of staff confirmed that the restaurant had closed for two days and had since reopened .

The decision to close had been made voluntarily by the management.

Environmental health officers from Westminster City Council and the Health Protection Agency (HPA) have launched their own investigation and will decide whether the Food Standards Agency needs to launch an enquiry.

The restaurant last had a routine food hygiene inspection in October 2008 and it received three out of a possible four stars.

At the time inspectors noted that while there was a 'good level of legal compliance' one also noted that ' some more effort might be required.'

One health source explained today: 'Initially it looked as if the woman may have become ill after eating oysters at the restaurant but another woman in her party who ate them was absolutely fine and did not suffer any ill effects.

'At this stage we can't take the investigation any further until we have the results of some more tests. There is no evidence to say she died as a result of something she ate at the restaurant.'

Richard Block, food safety manager at Westminster City Council, said: ' There is nothing currently to link this death directly to the restaurant which is cooperating fully with our investigation.'

 A Health Protection Agency spokeswoman said: 'We can confirm that a person has sadly died and food poisoning is being investigated as a possible cause of death.

'Currently there is no evidence to link the death to any particular establishment.'

The restaurant was originally founded by Giovanni Quaglino in 1929 before undergoing a £2.5 million refurbishment and relaunch by Sir Terence Conran in 1993.

Sir Terence, who has been behind other successful restaurant ventures such as Bibendum and Kensington Place, sold his 51 per cent majority stake in the D&D parent company last May for an estimated £100 million.



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