MSP badgers Crown Office for anthrax information

South of Scotland MSP Christine Grahame wants all the information held by the authorities into the death of a Borders man from anthrax last year made public.

Although her request under Freedom of Information legislation to the Crown Office to get the details of the case released has been rejected, she now intends taking the matter up in the Scottish Parliament next week, when she will press for a review of the Crown Office’s decision. Ms Grahame wants to see all the material held, including the results of the investigations so far by NHS Borders.

Ms Grahame’s latest action comes after she was informed by Interim District Procurator Fiscal Betty Bott, that the information she was seeking – which was being held for the purpose of an investigation to determine whether a person should be prosecuted for an offence – will not be released yet.

Ms Bott told Ms Grahame she had considered her request, but had decided that the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosing it at this stage.

Ms Grahame said: "I have some concerns related to how well the authorities dealt with the case of Mr Norris, not so much after anthrax was confirmed, but in the weeks before his cause of death was established. I understand that there are facilities in Scotland which would have been able to test for this much more quickly than sending the samples to Porton Down, the military testing facility in England. If that is the case, then potentially, the subsequent delay that caused placed individuals at risk. All the available information so far suggests that Mr Norris contracted anthrax after coming into contact with a contaminated badger pelt."

Grahame presses Crown Office over undisclosed anthrax case findings (Southern Reporter, 17 October 2007)