Porter charged with attempted poisoning

A kitchen porter has been charged with attempting to poison pupils at a top public school.

Maxwell Cook, 57, was arrested in March after carrot and coriander soup due to be served to students at Stowe School in Buckinghamshire was found to be allegedly laced with a chemical.

Cook, from Syresham, Brackley, Northamptonshire, was yesterday charged with attempting to administer poison with intent to injure, aggrieve or annoy.

A spokesman for Thames Valley Police said: "The charge is in connection with an incident at Stowe School, Buckinghamshire, where sanitising destainer was added to soup prepared for service on 11 March.

"The soup was not served to any pupils or staff and no-one was injured."

Cook was released on conditional bail and will appear at Aylesbury Magistrates' Court on 11 June. He had worked at the school since January 2007 but has since been suspended.

No-one at the school, which has about 760 pupils, and is housed in a former stately home once occupied by the Dukes of Buckingham, wished to comment on the matter yesterday.

Past pupils include business tycoon Sir Richard Branson, journalist Sir Peregrine Worsthorne and jazz great George Melly.