Anthrax Case (Crown Office)

Question Time — Scottish Executive — General Questions – in the Scottish Parliament at 11:42 am on 25th October 2007.

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Photo of Christine Grahame Christine Grahame Scottish National Party 11:42 am, 25th October 2007

To ask the Scottish Executive what the latest position is on the handling by the Crown Office of the anthrax outbreak in the Scottish Borders which led to the death of Pascal Norris. (S3O-983)

The Solicitor General for Scotland (Frank Mulholland):

The investigation into the death of Pascal Norris by the procurator fiscal for the Scottish Borders is on-going. The procurator fiscal has sent a detailed report about the death to the Crown Office, so that Crown counsel can decide whether criminal proceedings or a fatal accident inquiry should be held. A final decision will not be made until the report from the director of public health for NHS Borders is available. That report is expected to be finalised in December. [ Interruption. ]

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

I ask whoever has a mobile phone on to turn it off.

Photo of Christine Grahame Christine Grahame Scottish National Party

I do not need introductory music.

I thank the Solicitor General for his answer, which provided much more clarity than I have had in correspondence from the Crown Office. It is difficult to see how a prosecution can be made when most of the available information shows that—unfortunately and tragically—Mr Norris came into contact with contaminated badger pelt.

Why were the samples that were taken from Mr Norris sent to England for analysis, which caused a six-week delay? I have received information from a senior veterinary level that those samples could have been tested equally well in Scotland, which would have reduced the timeframe for confirmation and the potential risk to other individuals.

The Solicitor General for Scotland:

When determining whether a fatal accident inquiry should be held, Crown counsel will take into account that matter and others, including what the source of the anthrax was.