Manslaughter charges over outbreak

A council official has been charged with seven counts of manslaughter over an outbreak of Legionnaire's Disease.

Gillian Beckingham, 45, a design services manager with Barrow Borough Council, has been bailed to appear before magistrates on February 24, Cumbria Police said.

Summonses have also been served on the council in relation to seven charges of manslaughter.

Seven people died of the illness, which was linked to the air conditioning unit at a council-run arts complex in the town in August 2002.

The outbreak was one of the worst ever seen in Britain.

A total of 140 people were infected with the disease, which is spread on tiny water droplets.

Both Beckingham and the council have also been charged with an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act, said a police spokesman.

Beckingham is due to appear at Furness magistrates court on February 24. The council will answer the summonses at the same hearing.

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