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The Independent Online
Thames Water was ordered to pay pounds 90,000 for supplying water unfit for human consumption. It was also urged by a judge not to make customers foot the bill.

The company was fined pounds 20,000 on each of four sample charges and told to pay pounds 9,873 costs after pleading guilty at Kingston Crown Court. Judge John Baker also criticised Thames for "deliberately" not warning customers about foul-tasting, stale-smelling red or rust-coloured water flowing from the taps of almost 100,000 properties in south-west London because it thought it would cause panic.

The court was told that householders suffered stomach pains and sickness in the October 1994 incident, which affected Wimbledon, Mitcham, Tooting and Merton Park when rusty water got into the mains during the re-commissioning of a late Victorian main last used in 1989.

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