Friday, October 14, 2011

CPS says "Sorry". But does the government give a FACK?

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has apologised to the family of Mark Wright for failings in the way it investigated and took action over his death.

Mark, the 37-year old father of two children, had gone to work for a firm called Deeside Metal near Chester, which disposed of scrap metal and waste. He was not happy with safety and conditions there, but soldiered on with his family to keep.

One day in March 2005 a lorry delievered a load of what the driver said were empty aerosols. The firm did not check, but told Mark to put them in a crusher. In fact, the cans contained inflammable materials, and there was an explosion in which Mark was engulfd in flame and inhaled burning gas.

The CPS initially ruled that neither Deeside Metal, aerosol manufacturer Jeyes nor his boss Robert Roberts should face manslaughter charges.

I remember Mark Wright's mother, at a Workers Memorial Day rally in London, describing how the family had heard about his horrible death. Rather than investigate the circumstances the police were more concerned with warning his parents against "harassment" of the employers when they took flowers to the site.

It took four years cmpaigning by the Wright family before the CPS decided Mr Roberts should face manslaughter charges, and a court ruled that the length of the delay meant any subsequent trial would be an "abuse of process."

Jeyes, Deeside Metals and Mr Roberts were convicted of breaching health and safety laws in December 2010.

Mr Wright's mother Dorothy Wright said the apology "brings to a close our battle for justice. I would hope that in future workplace killing will be considered as the serious crime that it truly is."

Labour MP Katy Clark welcomed the apology, but said it was "long overdue" and would have not have been made but for tireless campaigning by Ms Wright and Families Against Corporate Killing (Fack), the campaign group of which Ms Wright is a founder member.

She added: "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. Now that these failures have been acknowledged it is essential that measures are put in place to stop them from ever reoccurring."

Meanwhile the Con Dem government is proceding with measures to run down the Health and Safety Executive inspectorate, and reduce the "burden" of safety regulation on companies. The September issue of Hazards magazine says minister Chris Grayling had met ten different industry bodies this year to discuss his plans. "But he couldn't find any time in his diary for FACK..."

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