Steve Barclay gives 'insulting' response to Bibby Stockholm barge Legionella scandal

Steve Barclay gives 'insulting' response to Bibby Stockholm barge Legionella scandal
Health minister says Legionella on Bibby Stockholm is a matter for the …

Health minister Steve Barclay had a pretty bad media round this morning as the fallout of the Bibby Stockholm barge containing Legionella bacteria continues.

Barclay was asked when he was made aware that there was a risk of Legionella on the barge, which asylum seekers moved onto last week as part of a government strategy to reduce costs of housing migrants in hotels, before being removed at the end of the week because of the dangerous bacteria in the water surrounding it.

He said he found out on Thursday evening but BBC host Sally Nugent said Dorset Council claimed they alerted a Home Office contractor on Monday evening.

"As health secretary, obviously I wouldn't be cited on whether someone in the Home Office had been alerted or not," he said.

"This is a Home Office lead," he added.

Nugent said: "Health is your brief, you would know how dangerous Legionella is."

Barclay said people were removed from the barge as soon as the government was aware of the situation.

People were unimpressed with his response and one said it was "insulting".

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Legionella bacteria can cause a potentially deadly lung infection called Legionnaires' disease. It is contracted by people breathing in droplets of water containing the bacteria.

Asylum seekers spent four days on the barge in the presence of this bacteria.

Asked whether people should be put back on the Bibby Stockholm despite the controversy, Barclay added on Sky News: "Yes, I do, because it's costing around £6m a day in terms of the cost of hotels.

"It's important that we both maintain safety standards, but also reflect the pressure on the taxpayer position in terms of that £6m."

The health secretary also said no migrants had shown signs of illness from Legionella.

"There has been no concerns in terms of anyone that has been on the barge and all those people are being subject to health assessments," he said.

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