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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 July 2006, 14:43 GMT 15:43 UK
Official 'had no safety training'
Gillian Beckingham
Gillian Beckingham denies all charges
A council architect accused of causing an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease which led to seven deaths had no health and safety training, a court has heard.

Gillian Beckingham, 48, is alleged to have cancelled a maintenance contract on an air-conditioning unit at the Forum 28 Art Centre in Barrow, Cumbria.

In 2002 it sprayed deadly bacteria into the air, causing an outbreak.

Mrs Beckingham, from Grange-over-Sands, denies manslaughter and breaching health and safety laws.

Richard Macauley, 88, Wendy Milburn, 56, Georgina Somerville, 54, Harriet Low, 74, Elizabeth Dixon, 80, June Miles, 56, and Christine Merewood, 55, all from Barrow, died, and a further 140 people were infected.

'Not on syllabus'

Giving evidence in her defence, Mrs Beckingham told Preston Crown Court that her job as the senior architect at the council was mainly working on architecture and design on local housing projects.

David Travers, defending, asked her if she had any health and safety training, while she studied for five years to become an architect.

She said: "None at all. From what I can remember I don't think it was on the syllabus at all."

When asked what health and safety training she had from Barrow Borough Council, she said: "As far as I am aware, I have not had any health and safety training."

At an earlier trial Barrow Borough Council, which owns Forum 28, was cleared of corporate manslaughter, but pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The trial continues.


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