news release



no embargo - 9 June 2008Back to news releases)

Press Statement on Conviction of NW Aerosols
FACK calls for Directors Duties NOW!!

NW Aerosols Ltd were fined £2 plus £1 costs at Liverpool Crown Court on 4th June for health and safety offences which resulted in the death of Christopher Knoop and the severe injury of three others – Gray Brine, Kevin Armstrong and Graham Ryder.

None of the directors who ran NW Aerosol were in court and as they have put the company into voluntary liquidation, Judge Graham Morrow QC was only able to impose this “absurd and unreasonable fine” but he said if NW Aerosols Ltd was still trading, the starting point for a fine would have been £250,000, for what he aptly described as “an accident waiting to happen”.

FACK which held a vigil outside the court, supports Christel Stewart, the sister of Christopher Knoop, in condemning this outcome. FACK support families of those killed by employers’ negligence in trying to get some justice. FACK also campaigns for better law and much stricter enforcement and for charges, convictions and penalties in the courts which will act as real deterrents to prevent more needless deaths. (1)

The last word about the injustice of his case comes from Christel Stewart’s 7 year old son who said: “Does this mean that they killed uncle Chris for £3.00?”

A spokesperson for Families Against Corporate Killers said:
“ FACK feels this case highlights the injustice of current law and enforcement on health and safety. We feel that if Directors had positive legal duties for the H&S, then the individual Directors of this company could have been held to account in court.. It is currently lawful for a company charged with breaking H&S law, even where this results in death and severe injury, to be put into liquidation and for the individual directors to walk away escaping any charges at all. In this case, that led to the absurd situation of such a company, NW Aerosols, being fined £2. It would be laughable if it were not so tragic, so wrong, and so unlikely to send out the right message to other companies and directors failing to comply with health and safety law and putting all their workers at risk.

“FACK feels this was able to happen as there are no positive legal duties on directors to be responsible for the H&S in their companies: the legal duties to comply with H&S at work are on the company. In theory it is possible to charge directors under S37 of the HASAWA (2), and also with manslaughter, but the HSE found insufficient evidence for anything other than a charge for H&S offences against the company.

FACK does not think fines for H&S offences which kill workers or members of the public are a suitable punishment either for justice or for deterrence. Since FACK’s establishment in 2006, we have been campaigning for directors to be given positive legal duties to be responsible for the H&S in their organisations and if guilty of breaching them, to face a prison sentence. In 2001 in the government’s ‘Revitalising H&S Strategy’ there was a government commitment to implement such laws but since then we have had only voluntary codes of practice and guidance from the HSE (3). During the passage of the recently passed Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act, FACK were promised by a Minister at the Home Office that such duties would be implemented separately. Instead, another set of voluntary guidance was issued last year.

“ FACK feel this case shows the need for Directors Duties very starkly. FACK feels that directors running a company and take the profit, have a moral and legal duty to comply with the law, protect workers, and to be held to account if they fail. We are calling on the government and the HSE to look urgently at the need to change the law to stop other workers being killed.”

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 Tel 0161 636 7557
FACK leaflet - [pdf]

2. Under Section 37 of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 If a health and safety offence is committed with the consent or connivance of, or is attributable to any neglect on the part of, any director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the organisation, then that person (as well as the organisation) can be prosecuted under section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

3. Revitalising H&S Strategy Statement June 2000 HSC, DETR
Page 26 Action Point 11: ‘The Health and Safety Commission will develop a code of practice on Directors’ responsibilities for health and safety, in conjunction with stakeholders. It is intended that the code of practice will, in particular, stipulate that organisations should appoint an individual Director for health and safety, or responsible person of similar status (for example in organisations where there is not a board of directors).

The Health and Safety Commission will also advise ministers on how the law would need to be changed to make these responsibilities statutory so that Directors and responsible person of similar status are clear about what is expected of them in their management of health and safety. It is the intention of Ministers, when Parliamentary time allows, to introduce legislation on these responsibilities.’

4. See Hazards Magazine deadly business pages for the background -

5. What about the workers? Families of workers killed by employer negligence feel bitterly disappointed by Corporate Manslaughter Bill 24 July 2007

6. 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 -