Lawyers for victims of Legionnaires’ outbreak call for FAI as Crown says there will be no prosecutions

Lawyers for victims of Legionnaires’ outbreak call for FAI as Crown says there will be no prosecutions

Lawyers for victims of a disease outbreak which resulted in four deaths have called for an inquiry after the Crown said there will be no prosecutions over the deaths.

An investigation into the 2012 outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease failed to find the source of the bacteria and the Crown Office and Procurators Fiscal Service(COPFS) have said there is not enough evidence to pursue any individuals or organisations.

However, they have not ruled out the possibility of a fatal accident investigations (FAI).

Patrick McGuire, a partner at Thompsons Solicitors (pictured), who is representing the families involved said the decision was “very disappointing” and added they were in the process of starting civil legal proceedings.

He said: “This mass poisoning took place in our capital city and yet no one has been brought to book.

“What sort of message does that send out to the public and what does it say about how we stop any further outbreaks?”

Elaine Russell, a partner at Irwin Mitchell Scotland, represents 40 of the victims.

She said that for years they had been met with a “wall of silence” over the matter and that an FAI was needed.

She said: “The authorities are no closer to knowing what the source of the illness was.

“It raises the question of how we can learn lessons from this tragedy to prevent it happening again, especially as two smaller outbreaks also occurred in Scotland in 2013.

“The families affected want answers as to what caused such suffering across the city and we now believe that a Fatal Accident Inquiry is crucial.”

In total, 92 cases were identified, with four people dying – Sean Ferguson, Bert Air, John Lonnie and Sylvia Riddell.

A number of cooling towers in the south west of Edinburgh formed part of the inquiry but the Crown Office said it was impossible to fix the source of the Legionella bacteria which caused the deaths between June and July 2012.

Gary Aitken, head of the health and safety division of COPFS, said: “Following a complex and thorough investigation which involved detailed genetic analysis, we can only conclude that there is no scientific basis for any prosecution related to the deaths and, as a result, no criminal proceedings are instructed by Crown Counsel.

“This was always going to be a difficult and complex investigation due to the number of potential sources in the Gorgie area but we continued on in the hope that the necessary scientific evidence would come to light. Unfortunately that hasn’t happened.

“We will now consult further with the families before making any decision in relation to a fatal accident inquiry.”

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