Reading Borough Council is being hauled into court after a pensioner died from Legionnaires' disease believed to have been caught from a wash basin tap in his care home bedroom.

The local authority is being prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive after a coroner ruled 95-year-old Lewis Payne died of Legionella pneumonia, caused by the Legionnaire bacteria.

The council could face up to a £20,000 fine if it admits or is convicted of breaching the Health and Safety Act by not protecting residents of the home.

Mr Payne died on November 1, 2012, after contracting the deadly bug at the Reading Borough Council-run care home The Willows in Hexham Road, Whitley.

The pensioner, of Knights Way, Emmer Green, was at the home for a period of respite after fracturing a leg, when he died.

The council is being prosecuted after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive and will appear in court in October to enter a plea to the charge of failing to discharge its duty under the act.

The charge states that between 12/9/11 and 16/10/12 the council "failed to conduct its undertaking, namely operating a care home in such a way as to ensure so far as was reasonably practicable, that persons not in its employment who may have been affected thereby, including Lewis Payne, were not thereby exposed to risks to their health and safety, namely from contracting Legionella pneumonia."

A spokesman for Reading Borough Council said: "Reading Borough Council would again like to express its sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr Payne.

"We have worked closely with both the Health Protection Agency (HPA) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in responding to this case.

"The Council cannot comment further at this stage due to the imminent court case.”

Berkshire Coroner Peter Bedford heard during an inquest into Mr Payne's death in May 2013 tested positive for Legionnaires disease after being admitted to hospital despite two weeks treatment of strong antibiotics.

Mr Bedford heard that the rare form of the bacteria was also found on his wash basin tap and concluded that was the most likely source of the infection.

Recording a narrative verdict Mr Bedford said: "Tests confirmed that the strand of Legionnaires found in the wash basin of Mar Payne's room is the same type, that is not particularly common, found in his urine sample, supporting the view that on the balance of probability the tap was the source of the Legionnaires.

"While Legionnaires was the principal cause of death subsequent attempts to eradicate it has not proved completely successful."

Mr Bedford was told in the inquest that the care home's water system was overseen by the council's Property Services, which contracted a third party to carry out health and safety risk assessments. Documents were then kept with a log at the care home that would have told staff what is needed to do to manage the water system.