TWO years on from the Legionnaires’ outbreak which killed his mother, a grieving son is demanding answers and the release of vital files by the Crown Office.
John Maitland’s mother, Sandra, 61, from Tollcross, Edinburgh, died after contracting the disease during the June 2012 outbreak in the capital which claimed the lives of four people while 45 others needed hospital treatment.
The mother of seven was admitted to hospital on 7 June 2012 after becoming the 12th confirmed person to have contracted the disease.
She was in hospital for several weeks and while there was told she would not be able to have the heart bypass surgery she had been scheduled to as a result of contracting Legionnaires’. Her health continued to deteriorate and she died in September 2013.
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) was instructed to review the incident and it submitted its findings to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service last year. However, the report has not been made available to the victims’ families and their legal representatives.
Backed by his legal team, father of two Maitland, 41, from Dunfermline in Fife, is now demanding that those files are released so he and his six siblings can find closure and an answer as to the likely source of the outbreak.
Maitland said: “We are a big, close family and mum was central to it. Her death has devastated the family and all we want is some answers. We’re not interested in damages, just answers: how did this happen and why? And what is being done to stop this ever happening again and putting other people through what our mother and we have gone through?”
Maitland said doctors told his mother they could not perform her life-saving bypass because of the bacteria in her body from the Legionnaires’ and the high risk of infection and complications. He said: “She never recovered after the outbreak. It took all her strength and ultimately her life away.”
Legal firm Irwin Mitchell is acting for the Maitlands and the families of other victims and the organisation says it has been forced to raise a court action to secure documents which, it believes, will assist legal action against the officials responsible for the outbreak. Several cooling towers in south-west Edinburgh, including one at a distillery, have been identified as a possible source of the Legionella bacteria.
The Scottish Government said investigations into the outbreak are “necessarily a complex and lengthy process” and that it is only right that the Crown Office is given time to consider reports.