A CHARITY worker drowned in a three foot deep lake in Hampshire after rescuers were refused permission to rescue him for health and safety reasons, an inquest heard.

Simon Burgess, 41, was left floating face down in a model boating lake in Gosport in Hampshire while apparently suffering a epileptic fit.

The inquest was told how a witness, who had dialled 999, begged the first fireman on the scene to help Mr Burgess but he refused because the water in the Walpole Park pond was above “ankle deep”.

The emergency crew instead stood by and watched while waiting for a specialist water rescue team to arrive, meaning that Mr Burgess was not taken out of the lake until 28 minutes after the alarm had been raised.

He was declared dead in hospital.

Witness Gillian Hughes, 53, told the inquest how the specialist team measured the depth of the water with a pole.

She said: “I said to one of the firemen, “Why don't you go in? And he said they couldn't if the water was higher than ankle deep. I said, “You're having a laugh.”

He said, “No that that's health and safety.”

The inquest continues.