Butcher bailed in E.coli case

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The Independent Online
The butcher at the centre of the food poisoning outbreak which has left 16 pensioners dead appeared in court yesterday to face a charge of culpable and reckless conduct.

John Barr, of Wishaw, Lanarkshire, appeared on petition at Hamilton Sheriff Court to face the charge which arises from the alleged supply by him of cooked meat from his shop.

After the hearing, the Scottish Office released a statement which said Barr was committed for further examination and released on bail.

The statement said: "It is not possible to predict with certainty when any particular trial will take place but the Lord Advocate has emphasised to the procurator fiscal at Hamilton and Crown counsel that the public interest demand that in this case investigations be concluded without delay and that any trial should proceed as soon as possible."

According to the Scottish Office the Lord Advocate has also instructed the procurator fiscal to continue with his preparations for a fatal accident inquiry to be held in relation to the deaths in the E.coli outbreak.

The statement went on: "To ensure that no relevant lines of questioning are restricted at the fatal accident inquiry and to avoid any risk of possible prejudice to the accused in criminal proceedings, the Lord Advocate has decided, in line with normal practice that the fatal accident inquiry should not commence until the completion of any criminal proceedings."

Strathclyde police had been called in to investigate the case along with environmental health officials from North Lanarkshire Council. In the early stages of the crisis John Barr's solicitor, George Moore, said they would co-operate fully.

Sixteen pensioners have died in the outbreak, many of whom had attended a church party in Wishaw on 17 November.

As the death toll grew to the second highest on record, more than 400 people were reported as showing symptoms of food-poisoning. Some are still in hospital in central Scotland.

John M Barr & Son, linked to the outbreak since the early stages, was last year voted Scotland's best butcher.

John Barr's solicitor, Glasgow-based lawyer George Moore last night refused to give any details of the earlier court appearance.