Login Register

3,000 staff defy anthrax hoaxer

THOUSANDS of bank staff defied a sick anthrax hoaxer by working on through a scare caused by a suspicious package.

The emergency services arrive at MBNA on Chester Business Park

THOUSANDS of bank staff defied a sick anthrax hoaxer by working on through a scare caused by a suspicious package.

And MBNA boss General Charles Krulak, who was taken to hospital for decontamination during yesterday's alert, praised his workers' stiff upper lip spirit.

General Krulak spoke out as Cheshire Constabulary launched a criminal investigation after Chester's largest employer was put on full alert.

Firefighters and paramedics rushed to MBNA Europe Ltd on Chester Business Park at about 9.30am after it was reported postroom staff felt 'ill effects' after a mysterious package was sliced open by the company's automated mail machine.

A fire engine arrived at the American company's massive European headquarters to provide water for contamination tents set up by paramedics so staff who came into contact with the item could have showers to wash away any possible infection.

Ambulances travelled to and from the site for most of the day as paramedics in protective suits controlled the situation while 3,000 office staff got on with their jobs - an ethos MBNA is proud of.

General Krulak, who used to be commandant of the US marine Corps and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said yesterday's scare was nothing to worry about.

His words later proved true as the Countess of Chester Hospital revealed six bank staff had been discharged without treatment.

General Krulak told me: 'I am very proud of the people at MBNA and the way Chester facilities and medical staff responded.'

Asked why a possible hoaxer targeted his company, he said: 'I have no idea. It sounds to me many organisations are being targeted.

'This is not serious at all. We have taken all precautions. All the rumours about MBNA being closed is not true. You have to keep focused on the job. We have a lot of customers who depend on us.'

General Krulak, who used to work alongside Presidents Reagan and Bush Senior, was among six people taken to the Countess of Hospital for a check-up but was soon back at his desk.

'I don't think shocked is the word,' he said. 'You have got to have a stiff upper lip. The bank is in business. We don't stop for this.'

Asked how he felt about staff being decontaminated, General Krulak said: 'I was with them. I got decontaminated.

'Anybody who cares for their people will do the same. The people of Chester ought to be very proud of their paramedics.'

This is the second scare for the company this week. On Wednesday morning staff received a suspicious package but were not happy with its contents. The police were called and sealed off the mail room. The package was examined but tests proved negative.

Police say there is no link between yesterday's MBNA scare and a similar event at the Royal Mail office in Copperas Hill, Liverpool, on Tuesday which caused 400 staff to be evacuated.

Jacqui Hanson, a spokeswoman for the Cheshire Constabulary, said tests on the second package, which was sent to a government biological base in Porton Down, could take as long as 24 hours.


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
Contact Us
Full contact details