Decontamination officers at work in the paper’s offices last February
The Lynn News has been charged with three counts of failing to ensure the health and safety of its employees and those working for an air conditioning company after material containing asbestos was discovered in the ceiling of the papers King’s Lynn office last February.
The charges, laid by the Borough of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, carry a maximum penalty of £20,000 each.
Journalists told Press Gazette at the time how angry and worried they were when the material was revealed during work on new air conditioning units. They had to be moved to another floor during decontamination (Press Gazette, 16 March).
The council began an investigation immediately after making sure the building was safe again.
Last week, the Johnston Press bi-weekly was before local magistrates faced with charges under the Health and Safety Act of failing to discharge its duty in ensuring the health, safety and welfare at work of employees of the News; of failing to ensure that two employees of EOC Services were not exposed to risks to their health and safety; and, under the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 1987, that it failed to prevent the exposure of employees to asbestos or reduce such exposure to the lowest level reasonably practicable by measures other than the use of respiratory equipment.
Lynn News editor Malcolm Powell said the company was told earlier last month that it was to be taken to court. At the first court appearance on Thursday of last week, when the newspaper was represented by solicitors, no pleas were entered and the case was adjourned until 11 October.
EOC Services faces three similar charges in relation to the asbestos scare, which kept Lynn News staff out of their office for two weeks.
lSales of the Lynn News are at a record high. Its ABC for January to June, announced last week, is around 50,700, the first time it has broken that barrier for 22 years. It also enjoyed record sales in August, with more than 52,000 sales for three weeks in succession.