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Anthrax scare at Countess

STAFF at the Countess of Chester Hospital received a suspicious envelope in the morning mail.

STAFF at the Countess of Chester Hospital received a suspicious envelope in the morning mail.

Office staff were not happy with the contents of the item and called the police immediately after receiving the item at about 10.20am on Tuesday.

Cheshire Constabulary spokeswoman Jacqui Hanson would not reveal what the envelope contained and tests are still ongoing.

Hospital spokeswoman Lorna Jones said: 'One of our clerical offices received a suspect package.

'This office is located well away from any clinical areas of the hospital.

The police were called and all appropriate precautions have been taken.

'The package has been removed and at this stage the police have no evidence to suggest this item is threatening in any way.'

A suspicious letter was also received at the offices of our sister paper the Crewe Chronicle on the same day. Tests on the package are ongoing.

Meanwhile hoaxers who spark anthrax fears in Britain have been warned they could face up to seven years in jail.

Home Secretary David Blunkett has ordered a review of the law in a bid to stop bogus terror alerts following a string of false cases which have brought chaos to parts of Britain in the last few days.

Speaking on Wednesday, Mr Blunkett said: 'Any evidence of hoaxes should be reported immediately to the police.

'These are malicious, criminal acts. Anyone sending hoax packages or misleading the police will be prosecuted.'

The Home Secretary has now ordered a study of the Criminal Law Act 1967 to see whether it should be updated to be tougher on hoaxers.

Until now they could have expected a short jail term or even a fine, but in light of the biological attacks in America, hoaxers can now expect to get the maximum seven-year sentence.


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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