Legionnaires victims call for end to secrecy

The legionnaire's outbreak affected the Wester Hailles and Sighthill area.  Pic: Ian Rutherford
The legionnaire's outbreak affected the Wester Hailles and Sighthill area. Pic: Ian Rutherford
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VICTIMS of the deadly Legionnaires’ outbreak in the Capital are calling for “an end to secrecy” as they demand answers over the source of the bug.

Families of those affected by the bacteria are furious that no findings have been released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or the Crown Office despite their desperate pleas.

In 2012, four people died and 45 others were hospitalised in Edinburgh after coming into contact with the bacteria which is spread through contaminated water.

Six cooling towers in the capital were tested but the findings have yet to be released.

Now law firm Irwin Mitchell - who is leading a compensation battle for 35 families - said it is gathering evidence to raise Court of Session proceedings to force the disclosure of the facts.

One victim, Gavin Thomson, who almost died after breathing in the deadly vapour, said “it’s time officials put an end to secrecy”.

The 58-year-old said: “I was so ill I ended up in intensive care. I really thought it was the end. The doctors told my family to prepare for the worst.”

Mr Thomson, who spent three weeks in hospital and four months off work added: “I now know what is feels like to be close to death and it’s terrifying.”

Irwin Mitchell law firm partner, Elaine Russell, has also called for answers.

She said: “The source of a similar outbreak in Stoke-on-Trent two months later was made public within a month.

“It is wrong that almost two years on our clients do not know where the outbreak came from.

“How long do they have to wait for evidence to proceed with their cases? The families of the dead need answers as do those who became seriously ill.”

The HSE passed on a report for consideration by the Procurator Fiscal last month and is being examined by a specialist branch of the Crown Office who deal with health and safety.

A HSE spokeswoman said: “We can confirm we have submitted reports to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and there are others in the process of being sent.

“HSE’s investigation continues.”

A spokesman for the COPFS said: “There is a live investigation and the HSE are in the process of submitting a number of reports to the COPFS.”

Legionnaires’ disease is a serious lung infection caused by legionella bacteria which is commonly found in rivers and lakes.

The bacteria rapidly multiply if they find their way into artificial water supply systems such as air conditioning units.