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Gloucestershire Company guilty of Corporate Manslaughter-Fined £385,000
Posted by David Cant on February 18, 2011

Winchester Crown Court took only 90 minutes to find Cotswold Geotechnical guilty of corporate manslaughter after the death of one of their employees.  This is the first time that any company in the United Kingdom has been convicted under the new corporate legislation, which stands as a reminder to all companies to make sure that all their employees are safeguarded against harm and injury.

The company was found guilty of corporate manslaughter after denying the charge as the HSE investigation showed that they failed to ensure that safety of one of their employees.  The jury heard how Alexander Wright aged 27 from Cheltenham was crushed to death in 2008 while collecting soil samples.  Mr Wright, who worked as a junior geologist was working in a dug out pit which had been excavated as part of a site survey.

Sentencing Announced for “Grave Offence”

The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 came into force in April 2008 and until now no company has ever been convicted under this legislation.  Sentencing of the company took place on February 17th 2011 and the company received a fine of £385,000.

The judge called the breech in the company’s duty regarding the health and safety of Mr Wright as a grave offence and that the fine was in place to serve as a deterrent for other companies.  This is to ensure that other companies make sure to take health and safety seriously and keep within the law when it comes to ensure the safety of workers and members of the public.

The fine will not be cleared until ten years’ time as the company have been permitted to pay annual instalments of £38,000.  Cotswold Geotechnical is a very small firm that employs four workers at this present time and as a direct result of this fact the judge refrained from imposing a much more sizable fine.

The smaller fine was only decided upon to try and save the jobs of the four employees as the company would have been forced to go into liquidation had the fine have been more substantial.  Mr Justice Field stated that as it stands the company may have to go into litigation which shows the consequences of the breech in health and safety.

Is Your Company Doing Everything Possible to ensure the Health and Safety of your Employees?

This accident could have been avoided by making sure that there are health and safety measures which enforced on a daily basis within your company.  Veritas Health and Safety consultants are able to help you to identify any lapses within your business which could cause dangers to employees and the public.  We can highlight these areas, as well as the places where excellent systems are in place.

Our Health and Safety Audit helps to ensure you are staying within the law and doing everything you can to create and maintain a safe working environment. This can help you to comply with all the changes in the law regarding Health and Safety and help to show that you are dedicated to making continuous improvements.

The health and safety audit will result in a comprehensive report which you can use to identify areas which need to be improved.  To talk to our experts about our Health and Safety Audits, or any of our services please contact us online or call 0800 1488 677.


David Cant is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner extraordinaire. He has a wealth of Industry experience and is the MD of Veritas Consulting. David also Blogs about Health and Safety here Health and Safety Consultants

His aim is to flavour Health and Safety with integrity, served with a side of humour You can find David on - Twitter and Google also Linkedin

This post has been filed in: Prosecutions & Who's in Court


  1. Sandy
    February 20, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Given that murder and manslaughter are jailable offences, how is the law applied to a

    • March 12, 2011 at 1:42 pm

      The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 is provided under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 legal framework which in simple terms is used against a “workplace wrong” and the case must be proven using “so far as is reasonably practicable” whereby “murder” is set out in common law and again in simple terms used against a “general public wrong” and the case must be proven using “beyond all reasonable doubt”

      The law means that companies and organisations can be found guilty of corporate manslaughter as a result of serious management failures resulting in a gross breach of a duty of care.

      hope that answers your question.

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