A NATIONAL newsagents has admitted it failed to protect staff in connection with a series of armed robberies across its Wirral stores.

Wirral Council is prosecuting Martin McColl Ltd – which has hundreds of newsagents and convenience stores across the country – accusing it of breaching its general duty to staff.

Acting on behalf of the company at Wirral magistrates court on Tuesday, Richard Orridge entered guilty pleas to six charges, which stated the company “failed to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work” of employees.

The prosecution comes after an investigation by the council’s environmental health division into six robberies that took place at McColl’s and Martin’s stores across Wirral between April, 2011 and January, 2012.

During the raids – which saw stores including those in Rock Ferry, Prenton and Birkenhead targeted – one member of staff was held up at knifepoint, another was threatened with crowbars and a third was hit over the head as he delivered takings to another store.

District Judge Michael Abelson told both Mr Orridge and Nigel Lawrence QC, acting on behalf of the council, that he was committing the case to Liverpool Crown Court for sentencing on August 7, due to the seriousness of the breaches.

He said: “Each one of these incidents is worth a fine in excess of £20,000 which takes it outside my jurisdiction.”