More set to sue over Legionnaires’ cases

THE mother of a man who almost died from legionnaires’ disease has become the latest to call in the lawyers as the number of damages claims linked to the outbreak grows.

Betty Mair, 74, whose son Gavin has been on life support since being struck down with the illness almost three weeks ago, told how she has now met with lawyers to stake a claim for compensation.

She joins five other victims who have reportedly instructed law firm Irwin Mitchell since contracting the disease.

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Two people have died since the outbreak began at the start of June, with the total number of cases now standing at 91 – rising by two yesterday.

Speaking from her Gorgie home, Mrs Mair said her 46-year-old son had turned a corner in his recovery but was still breathing with the aid of a ventilator and had yet to utter a word to her.

“He was seriously ill and the doctors told me ‘we have put him on a life support machine’ – it was that serious and it still is,” she said. “He was one of the first to go into hospital with it.

“I can’t describe how I felt when they told me it was legionnaires’. I was waiting for the phone call to say your son is deceased – I was almost expecting it.”

“I have been to visit him but he was falling in and out of consciousness and had lots of tubes in his mouth so couldn’t talk to me.

“I left a picture of Gavin’s son Leon with the doctors so when he is awake they can show him it.”

Mrs Mair said Gavin faced weeks of medical treatment before he would be released from Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. “He will need a lot of help when he finally gets out,” she said.

Lawyer Cameron Fyfe has now been appointed by Mrs Mair to raise a case for damages and is considering calling for a public inquiry. Last week, Scottish Labour pressed Holyrood to launch an inquiry into the outbreak.

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Health chiefs have said they expect the results of samples from 20 cooling towers imminently but admit they may not conclusively identify the source.

The Health and Safety Executive has served improvement notices on chemical firm Macfarlan Smith and North British Distillery, both in Wheatfield Road, as well as the National Museum of Scotland, in Chambers Street.

It ordered thorough cleaning of one of Macfarlan Smith’s cooling towers and ordered the distillery to devise an effective biocide control programme for one cooling tower, while the museum’s notice relates to “staff training issues”.

The notices do not mean the two firms or the museum have been identified as the source.