Legionnaire’s prosecutions decision due in 6 weeks

Four people died after ontracting Legionnaire's in 2012. Picture: Comp

Four people died after ontracting Legionnaire's in 2012. Picture: Comp

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A DECISION on prosecutions over the 2012 Legionnaire’s disease outbreak in the Capital will be made within the next six weeks, the Evening News can reveal.

The Crown Office has prepared a report after considering findings made by a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) review.

Four people died and 45 more needed hospital treatment after contracting the disease in June 2012. Cooling towers in the south-west of the Capital have previously been identified as a possible source.

Edinburgh Central MSP Marco Biagi, who was told to expect a decision within the next six weeks after writing to the Crown Office, said the development was overdue but welcome.

Mr Biagi has repeatedly raised concerns over the lengthy delay in the investigation. He said: “I’m glad to learn that a decision on prosecutions is imminent, although the silence around the investigation has been deeply frustrating.

“It’s been over two-and-a-half years since the outbreak, and final reports by the Health and Safety Executive were submitted to the Crown Office in June, which is a long time to wait for justice.

“Victims and their relatives want closure. This is an important step towards that.”

The Crown Office letter, signed by the head of the health and safety division Gary Aitken, confirmed that the report had been completed.

He wrote: “A report has been prepared for Crown Counsel’s consideration. Crown Counsel are the most senior lawyers in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and they will decide whether or not there will be criminal proceedings in relation to the outbreak.

“I anticipate that Crown Counsel’s instructions may be received within the next six weeks.

“At that point I will invite the families of the four people who tragically died as a result of that outbreak to meet with me in order that I can outline the findings of the investigation to them and the reasoning behind whatever decision has been reached at that stage by Crown Counsel.”

During the outbreak – which erupted in Gorgie – scores of people fell ill and had to be treated in hospital.

Mr Biagi last month hit out at a “wall of silence” after writing to the HSE to demand answers over delays in the investigation.

Last year, frustrated victims began legal action to secure the release of documents relating to the inquiry.

Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia and is caught by inhaling droplets of water, suspended in the air, containing harmful levels of Legionella bacteria.

The bacteria is common in rivers and ponds but exposure is more likely from water systems such as cooling towers and spa pools.

Victims have suffered from respiratory problems and pains in the joints in their arms and legs and some sufferers have told of becoming so weak they struggled to walk up the stairs in their own home.