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Last Updated: Friday, 23 September 2005, 13:38 GMT 14:38 UK
Cockling witness 'pushed to lie'
The jury, judge and legal teams at Morecambe Bay
The jury have visited the bay by hovercraft
The former girlfriend of one of the Morecambe Bay cockling disaster defendants was "pressured" into lying to the police, a court has heard.

Janie Bannister said the three Chinese defendants made her tell officers that alleged gang master Lin Liang Ren was not present when his workers died.

Five people are on trial at Preston Crown Court in connection with the deaths in February 2004.

Twenty-three Chinese cockle pickers are thought to have died.

The cocklers, all illegal immigrants aged between 18 and 45 years old, became trapped in the tide on Warton Sands in cold, wet, windy conditions. Two of the bodies have never been found.

I told them to tell the truth but they wouldn't
Janie Bannister
Lin Liang Ren, 29, from Liverpool, denies 21 counts of manslaughter.

He also denies perverting the course of justice and conspiracy to facilitate illegal immigration.

His girlfriend, Zhao Xiao Qing, from Liverpool, 21, denies perverting the course of justice and an immigration offence.

Lin Mu Yong, 31, also from Liverpool, denies an immigration charge, along with father and son David Anthony Eden Senior, 62, from Irby, Merseyside and David Anthony Eden Junior, 34, from Prenton, Merseyside.

On Friday, Miss Bannister, 19, who had been due to marry Lin Mu Yong a month after the tragedy, said the Chinese defendants wanted to make sure Lin Liang Ren did not get into trouble.

The court has heard that Miss Bannister, her fiance, known as "Yammie" and Zhao Xiao Qing, who she knew as Eva, were driving to Morecambe Bay on the night of 5 February.

'Pressured'

They received a call from Lin Liang Ren, who was on the sands with his workers, telling them the cockle pickers were stuck in rising tides.

The court heard that once the four of them had been picked up by police, the Chinese defendants began asking Miss Bannister to tell the officers that they had all been travelling to Morecambe together.

Miss Bannister said: "They tried to tell me to say there were four people in the car, in Yammie's Toyota, to get their story straight."

She added: "I told them to tell the truth but they wouldn't. I kept going along with their story because I was pressured."

The case continues.




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