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A pub company and two members of staff have appeared in court following a food poisoning outbreak that led to the death of one woman and left more than 30 others ill following a Christmas Day meal.

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Mum-of-one Della Callagher, 46, from Hornchurch, died after eating a traditional turkey meal at the Railway Hotel, in Station Lane, Hornchurch, in 2012.

The clostridium perfringens bacteria was identified as the likely cause of the sickness which also led to further 33 others becoming unwell.

The pub’s parent company, Mitchells and Butlers, its former manager Ann–Marie McSweeney, of Suttons Avenue, Hornchurch, and former head chef, Mehmet Kaya, of Water Lane, Purfleet, Essex, appeared at Romford Magistrates Court on Friday, following a year-long investigation by Havering Council.

The pub company, based in Fleet Street, Birmingham, and the two staff members were summonsed to answer allegations of serving food that was unfit for human consumption.

Kaya and McSweeney have also been summonsed to answer allegations of attempting to pervert the course of justice in relation to falsifying records.

The council’s cabinet member for public protection, Cllr Lesley Kelly, said: “This was clearly a very serious food poisoning incident and we have conducted a thorough investigation, which has led to these summonses.”

Helen Niebuhr, of Darbys Solicitors, who represents the family of Della Callagher, said: “My clients are pleased that the council is taking action against those responsible but are understandably very distressed by the proceedings. It is over a year now since Della’s unnecessary and traumatic death and as yet her family have no answers as to why and how this could have happened. It is hoped that those questions will be answered in the course of the prosecution and inquest.”

The case has been sent to Snaresbrook Crown Court for a preliminary hearing at 9.30am on Monday.

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