Challenges to HSE's Information Disclosure
Martin, the wife of David Martin, who was crushed
to death in December 2000, is challenging the failure
by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to provide
proper reasons for its decision not to prosecute a
company director over her husband's death.
If the challenge is successful, the HSE may have to
change its current restrictive policy towards providing
information to bereaved families.
challenge, taken by solicitors from the Public Law
Project, takes place at the same time as the Centre
for Corporate Accountability is appealing against
decisions by the HSE not to provide the CCA with information.
Challenge by Moira Martin
David Martin died when a 1.5 ton piece of steel -
which was being lifted by a crane - came loose from
lifting hooks which had no 'safety latches'. In May
2002, his employer, Service Welding Ltd, was fined
£25,000 following an HSE prosecution.
Newcastle Crown court heard that prior to the death
the company had been advised by its insurers to obtain
these 'safety latches' but they had failed to do so.
It was the absence of the latches - which cost just
£5 each - that caused the death.
The HSE however did not prosecute the directors of
the company who had overall responsibility for health
and safety. The company has since gone into receivership;
one of the directors has started up a new company,
Patterson Ryan Wireworkers Ltd, based in Nescastle
Moira Martin (through the CCA) asked the HSE what
investigations it had undertaken into the conduct
of the directors and why they decided not to prosecute
In a series of letters the HSE refused to explain
the decision, beyond commenting that there was no
evidence of individual responsibility.
In its complaint to the Information Review Panel'
operated by the HSE, and comprising two senior HSE
officials and one independent person - the Public
Law Project has argued that the HSE both misinterpreted
the law and misapplied its own disclosure policy when
dealing with Mrs Martins enquiries.
husband died in tragic circumstances. The HSE prosecuted
the company, but has not given us any adequate explanation
as to why they did not prosecute its directors.
In my view the HSE should be willing to provide
a bereaved family member like myself proper reasons
why they have not prosecuted." said Moira Martin
Bergman, Director of the CCA said:
HSE prides itself on its open government policy
and in many
cases the HSE does not disappoint. However, the
HSE's failure in the
case of Moira Martin to provide proper reasons is
not a one-off. The
HSE consistently refuses to provide reasons to bereaved
to why it is not prosecuting senior company officers."
by the CCA
The CCA has also written to the HSE's Complaints Panel
concerning a number of decisions where the HSE have
refused to provide the CCA excerpts of HSE's "Enforcement
Handbook" and operational guidance
which it produces for its inspectors
To download the letter sent to HSE's Director General,
CCA website has set up a new section that provides
advice on HSE's policy on disclsoure of information,
to Press Releases
Notes to Editors
Centre for Corporate Accountability is an independent
nonprofit advice, research and lobbying group at
the forefront of seeking to ensure that health and
safety law is properly enforced and that deaths
and injuries resulting from corporate activities
are subject to adequate criminal investigations,
and, where appropriate, prosecution and effective
sanctions. It's charitable activities are funded
by Joseph Rowntrees Charitable Trust.
The Centre runs a Work Related Death Advice Service
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