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CCA Press Releases

2 July 2003, Immediate Release

High Court gives permission for legal challenge over HSE's Failure to prosecute following death of a 12 year old boy

A decision by the Health and Safety Executive not to prosecute following the death of a twelve year old boy will now be subject to a 'judicial review' before the High Court following a ruling by Mr Justice Moses.

The ruling was given following legal proceedings issued by Christian Khan solicitors on behalf of Karen Pullen, the boys mother.

It is believed that this is only the second time that the HSE has been subject to a full High Court judicial review hearing. To read about the first one, click here.

Karen Pullen, the mother of Christopher said:

"I am simply delighted by this decision. I have always felt that the HSE failed to properly investigate my sons's death or take the right prosecution decision. These legal proceedings provide an opportunity to challenge the way the HSE dealt with my son's death"

12 year old Christopher Pullen was crushed to death on 8th September 2000 when a heavy steel framed door fell on him on the Market Estate in Islington. The door was off its hinges and had been propped up against a well in a stairwell of the flats.

The Health and Safety Executive investigated the incident and in March 2001 made its first decision not to prosecute Islington Council, who owned the estate, or Hyde Housing Association Ltd (trading at Hyde Northside) which was responsible for the Council's housing management.

In February 2002, following a meeting between the HSE, Karen Pullen, Gary O'Shea (from the Justice for Christopher Campaign) and the Centre for Corporate Accountability, the HSE's Regional Director for London, Murray Devine agreed to refer the papers to its newly set up prosecution team of lawyers.

In January 2003, the HSE informed Karen Pullen, that following this review, the HSE decided again not to prosecute due to 'insufficiency of evidence', and explained the reasons for its decision at a meeting in March 2003.

It is this decision - and the reasons given at the March meeting - that are being challenged. It is alleged that:

the HSE misdirected itself as to the proper scope of the offence under section 3 of the Health and Safely at Work Act 1974
the HSE failed to take into account Regulation 21 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999;
the HSE misdirected itself on the scope of the defence of 'reasonable practicality'.

Louise Christian, a Partner at Christian Khan Solicitors said:

"Christopher's death would not have happened if the maintenance staff on the estate had not left a heavy metal door lying around for months exposing him and other children to risk. In the light of this the HSE's decision not to prosecute was inexplicable and we welcome the decision of the Court that our application for judicial review can go ahead. We call on the HSE to reconsider its decision now so that it can spend its resources on the prosecution rather than on fighting the High Court case"

Gary O'Shea (from the Justice for Christopher campaign) who has been providing support for Karen Pullen stated:

"For me the most striking thing about the case was the lack of rigour in the HSE investigation so much so that when we met the HSE in 2002 we accused them of being a 'bulwark against justice'. That the High court is willing to look at HSE's decisions is a vindication of the Justice for Christopher Campaign."

No date has yet been set for the hearing

The Centre for Corporate Accountability's"Work-Related Death Advice Service" (WRDAS) has provided advice and assistance to Karen Pullen since April 2001. The WRDAS assists bereaved families in ensuring that the death is adequately investigated and subject to proper prosecution scrutiny. To read more about the WRDAS, Click Here

For Further Information:

Louise Christian. Christian Khan Solicitors 0207 831 1750
Karen Pullen First contact Louise Christian or the CCA
Gary'O'Shea 07000 752752
David Bergman, CCA 020 7490 4494

Contact the Centre on: 020 7490 4494

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Notes to Editors
  1. The Centre for Corporate Accountability is an independent non-profit advice, research and lobbying group concerned with the promotion of worker and public safety. It's charitable activities are funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.
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Page last updated on November 22, 2003