A SOLICITORS firm has threatened Bolton Council with legal action following a press release relating to coronavirus tests.

Accident Injury Solicitors, in Blackburn Road, was served with directions by Environmental Health officers on Friday to close immediately, after links to a series of coronavirus cases.

Bolton Council said that the business will have to remain closed indefinitely until they are satisfied improvements have been made.

However, a spokesman for the firm said that the premises had not been closed indefinitely and appealed to the council to amend their 'premature and inaccurate' press release.

The spokesman added: “AI Solicitors takes social responsibility and the health of its employees very seriously, and takes issue with any insinuation that implies otherwise.

"It is incorrect for the council to state that the firm has been closed down indefinitely, The premises has been closed and not the business, as our employees are operating remotely from their homes and have been doing a week before the council was even aware of any issue.

"We are a locally owned and operated business and are trying our best to operate under a very unusual and tough time. We have done or utmost to follow all the guidance (which changes daily and unexpectedly) issued by the government both locally and nationally.

"We would like to go on record and publicly ask the council respectively to amend the press release which has been issued both prematurely and inaccurately. If the matter remains unresolved we are open to proceeding with legal action.”

New tighter restrictions were introduced in Bolton last week to curb the virus, as the town recorded the highest rate of new cases in the country.

The council said that AI Solicitors was shut down after family members related to employees working at the business raised concerns with the council about the company’s practices.

The family members alleged that the business was not informing staff of cases of Covid-19 in the workforce, and employees were being forced to work alongside others who had tested positive for the virus.

On investigation the council and Public Health England (PHE) found 18 cases linked to the firm.

Environmental Health officers also found on a visit that seating arrangements were not far enough apart to manage social distancing, and cleaning arrangements were unsatisfactory.

Both authorities felt due to the large number of cases linked with the firm, it had to close due to the imminent risk to public health.

Bolton Council’s executive cabinet member for environment regulatory services, Cllr Hilary Fairclough said earlier: “The restrictions are clear – and in the case of this firm we had no choice but to take action.

“The firm clearly showed a disregard for the health of their staff and the wider community.

“We are in indebted to members of the public for letting us know about these unsafe practices.

“I urge anyone who has concerns about their place of work, or any business, to let us know so we can investigate.

“This council takes a zero-tolerance approach to those flouting the Covid-19 rules.”

Dr Will Welfare from PHE North West added: “We are working closely with Bolton Council to provide expert public health advice and help stop the spread of the virus.

“We all have a part to play in preventing further transmission of the virus.

“Businesses should follow national government guidance, make sure they are Covid secure and keep their customers and employees safe.”