Apology for joke about legionella

A CHURCH official who joked about older members of her denomination being “wiped out” by Legionnaires’ disease has issued an apology.

Morag Buxel suggested that the Scottish Episcopal Church’s (SEC) annual gathering could be vulnerable to an outbreak of the potentially deadly infection, because it was largely attended by men over the age of 50.

The youth and children’s officer made the contentious comments in a report on the church’s General Synod, which met in Edinburgh last week.

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The controversy comes in the wake of Scotland’s worst Legionnaire’s outbreak in decades which has left two people dead and dozens more seriously ill.

Yesterday it emerged that one of the suspected cases has been confirmed as Legionnaires’, bringing the number of confirmed cases to 42.

Buxel’s online report on the SEC’s governing assembly stated: “I am not quite the youngest person there, but pretty close. The number of members sporting beards is disproportionately high.

“The news is filled with the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak and having read up on symptoms, and discovered that men over 50 are the most likely to contract it. I hope the General Synod is not doomed to virtual wipeout.”

Professor Hugh Pennington, Scotland’s leading bacteriologist, felt the comments would offend those affected by the outbreak. He said: “This is a very serious issue and is not something that should be joked about.”

A spokesman for the SEC said: “An insensitive and unfortunate personal remark was made following the General Synod. The remark was a personal view and was not made on behalf of the Church.”