Northants arrest over school "soup plot"

17 March 2010, 11:26 | Updated: 18 March 2010, 06:06

Officials at Richard Branson's former school say the 58 year old porter was arrested at his home near Brackley last week.

Police say staff at the public school just over the border in Buckinghamshire reported their concerns to them last week.

The man was held on suspicion of poisoning soup and questioned and released on bail.

The £27,000-a-year school, with former pupils including Sir Richard Branson, said the man was immediately suspended after the allegations emerged. 

He was questioned on suspicion of administering poison with intent to endanger life or inflict grievous bodily harm. Police said they could not detain him due to health reasons and released him on bail until March 29.

Detective Constable Vicky Ball, of Thames Valley Police, said: ``Nobody has been harmed, but these are serious accusations. Our investigation is still in its early stages and forensic work is continuing.''

Staff were carrying out ``routine checks'' before food was served to the pupils on March 11 when they became suspicious that the soup had been tampered with due to a chemical smell.

Headteacher Anthony Wallersteiner said: ``I would like to reassure parents that no pupils or members of staff were affected in the incident.''

The school, which has 750 pupils aged between 13 and 18, said an email was sent to parents on Tuesday alerting them to the arrest.

The school, established in 1923, said 90% of its pupils are boarders, with about 70 day pupils from the local area. Police say anyone with information about the case should contact them on 08458 505 505.