no embargo - 2 June 2008 ( Back to news releases)
Vigil for Christopher Knoop and injured colleagues
At Liverpool Crown Court 10am 2nd June
Outside Liverpool Crown Court on Monday 2nd June, FACK (1) will hold a vigil for Christopher Knoop who was killed and three colleagues who were severely injured by a blast at NW Aerosols in December 2005.
NW Aerosols are being prosecuted at Liverpool Crown Court by the HSE for two breaches of Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act – failure to maintain safe plant and failure to provide instruction, training and supervision. However, none of the directors of the company will be in court. They have put the company into liquidation and have not attended any of the court hearings. If the company is found guilty of these offences, a fine may be imposed but as the company is in liquidation it will never be collected.
Christel Stewart, Christopher’s sister is understandably angry and bewildered at a criminal justice system which can let this happen: “The company should take responsibility for what happened that killed Christopher. The directors were happy to take the profits, but now refuse to attend court to answer for their actions or inactions What sort of a message does this send out to other employers? We bring up our children to know right from wrong and to know that if you do something wrong you must take the consequences. I cannot explain to my own children how something very wrong has happened that killed their uncle and badly hurt three other people, yet no-one will have to answer for it. This is not justice, it does not make sense.”
A spokesperson for Families Against Corporate Killers said:
“FACK will be at the court to show our support for Christel and those who were injured. This is a very serious case of employer’s negligence that killed Christopehr Knoop and very seriously injured three others. Lives have been wrecked by criminal behaviour because that is what breaking health and safety law is: criminal behaviour (2). Yet amazingly after killing a man and wreaking havoc on the lives of three others and all their families, the directors of the company can simply put the company into liquidation and walk away! It is almost beyond belief that this can truly happen in the 21st Century. If they had hurt or killed the factory cat they could be facing charges and custodial sentences for animal cruelty, but for killing a worker and injuring others, employers in this country can simply walk away.)”
The Directors can do this because there are no legal duties on directors for health and safety, the duties are on the company so they liquidate the company and solve the problem. FACK, the Hazards Campaign and trade unions have been calling on the government to place legal duties on directors for health and safety for many years so that, as in this case, they could be held legally accountable and if found guilty they would face prison sentences. Despite promises, all we have are voluntary codes and voluntary guidance, and now an inadequate new Corporate Manslaughter Act (3).
LInzi Herbertson, Founder member of FACK says:
“We would like the judge to impose a fine on this company if convicted, to act to disqualify the directors from holding office ever again. We call on the government to act now to remedy this absolutely intolerable situation where killing a person goes unpunished: make directors legally responsible for the health and safety in their companies, stop giving employers a ‘get out of jail free’ card”.
Sec of LTC Mr. Mark Hoskisson said " Had Mr. Knoop been the victim of a fatal stabbing or shooting, charges would have been brought to enable the courts to issue extradition warrants for any one found guilty of the offence" He added "This is just another example of industrial prejudice where someone is killed and the legal mechanism totally fails to deliver of justice because the victim was employed at the time of the incident"
Christine Standing Fack member says: “Where is the best place to get away with killing someone? The workplace. If the government does nothing now, then they are condoning killing without punishment and no workers will be safe.”
For more information contact
Christel Stewart, Christopher Knoop’s sister - 07731931132
Hilda Palmer FACK 0161 636 7557
Linzi Herbertson FACK 07815 704912
1. FACK was launched in July 2006 with the support of the Hazards Campaign. We have lobbied parliament and ministers in Westminster and Edinburgh, over the need for stricter laws on corporate killing, penalties which will be a real deterrent plus much more enforcement BEFORE someone is killed. We have spoken at many public meetings and conferences, including the CBI; launched FACK at the STUC in Scotland; spoken at International Workers Memorial Day events on 28th April in Edinburgh, Glasgow, York, Manchester, Oldham, Chorley, Liverpool and Preston. FACK leaflet and information available on website www.fack.org.uk Tel 0161 636 7557 firstname.lastname@example.org
2. See Hazards Magazine deadly business pages for the background - http://www.hazards.org/deadlybusiness/news.htm
3. What about the workers? Families of workers killed by employer negligence feel bitterly disappointed by Corporate Manslaughter Bill 24 July 2007 - http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/fack/news/whataboutworkers.htm
4. See Hazards Campaign for latest figures on those killed by work in GB – 1,500 -1,700 in incidents like this one, and up to 50,000 due to occupational illnesses - http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/wmd/facts/08corpkillingfactspage1.htm