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CROWN PROSECUTION ERRED ON MANSLAUGHTER DECISION

CPS makes “unreserved apology” for mistakes in dealing with workplace death

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has apologised to the family of Mark Wright for the way it handled proceedings following his death in a workplace incident in April 2005. It has been reported by SHP Online that the apology came in a recent meeting with his parents and the DPP Keir Starmer QC who gave his “personal and unreserved apology” on behalf of the CPS.

Mr Wright died in hospital from severe burns after an aerosol canister he was crushing exploded and engulfed him in flames, at Deeside Metal in Chester. In December 2010 Jeyes UK  and Deeside Metals were prosecuted by HSE and fined £330,000 and £100,000, respectively. Robert Roberts, the site manager who instructed Mr Wright to crush the canisters, was fined £10,000.

Gross negligence manslaughter should not have been ruled out

The CPS decided that Deeside Metal, Jeyes UK and Roberts should not face manslaughter charges despite failing to follow “safe procedures”. Four years later the decision was reviewed and the CPS decided Roberts should face manslaughter charges. However, a court ruled that the delay meant that any subsequent trial would be an ‘abuse of process’.

The apology comes after a campaign by the pressure group Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK), and MP for North Ayrshire and Arran Katy Clark, who attended theCPS meeting.

Ms Clark said:

“It is clear there could have been a criminal prosecution for manslaughter. The failures in how Mark’s case was handled meant that this did not happen. It is the first time an apology of this type has been given in a death-at-work case. It highlights that cases of this nature are not given the attention and the priority they should by the authorities. Now that the failures in how Mark’s case was investigated have been acknowledged, it is essential that measures are put in place to stop them from ever reoccurring”.

FACK spokeswoman Hilda Palmer said:

“This apology to the Wrights is crucial in acknowledging the specific and atrocious failures in their case, but the DPP needs to go further in ensuring the way all work-related deaths are handled is vastly improved – in speed, in the way families are treated, and especially that such deaths are investigated and prosecuted as serious crimes, not mere breaches of regulations.”

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