news release



no embargo - 10 June 2009 ( Back to news releases)

Members of FACK are furiously angry that the death of a rabbit is treated more seriously than the death of a worker and want answers and action from the Prime Minister and the government

On 8th June a Scottish construction company and one of its directors was convicted of failing to ensure proper health & safety standards after the death of one of its workers, Andrezej Freitag, who fell 3m down an exhaust shaft in a block of flats being built in Dundee on 29th May 2008, and later died of his injuries.

Also on 8th June Steven Appleton was in court convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to a rabbit at Magistrates Court in  Caerphilly, as he had stamped it to death.

Mr Freitag’s employers, Discovery Homes (Scotland) Ltd of High Street Kinross, were fined £5,000 for breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. A Director of the company, Richard Lionel Pratt, who was also the site manager, was fined £4,000 after being convicted of breaching Section 37 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Steven Appleton was given a 6 month custodial sentence.

Sharon Norman, a member of Families Against Corporate Killers, was so outraged at the fact that in our society today a rabbit’s life can be valued more highly, and the rabbit killer can be sentenced more harshly than the killer of a man who went to work and should have been protected by law, that she has written to the Prime Minister to protest.

Sharon whose dad Gordon Field was killed at work says:

When I read the two news reports above and the outrageously different penalties handed down by our courts to the killer of a rabbit and the killers of a man, I was so angry and I had to e-mail the Prime Minister. I asked him to explain to me how this could be right and to tell him how my dad was killed, essentially he was stamped to
death by a load, very like the rabbit was stamped to death, but this was by his employer! The employer had carried out a risk assessment but hadn’t acted on it, yet 4 hours after his death a safety stand to prevent the equipment from falling was made at a cost of £12.

"I asked him why it took 3 years to fine the company yet the rabbit killer was tried, convicted and sentenced in a few months.  Every year many more people are given custodial and suspended sentences for animal cruelty than have ever been given such sentences for killing a worker.  We don’t condone animal cruelty but cruelty to people that devastates families must surely be more serious? I expect some action from the Prime Minister as I believe he is an honourable man who cares about ordinary folk like us, especially in this recession when workers lives will be put at even greater risk by employers cutting H&S corners. I look forward to hearing from him.  We members of FACK are angry and want answers and action now, or this could turn into Rabbit-gate."

Linzi Herbertson, Founder FACK member added:

“On April 28th the government officially recognised International Workers Memorial Day when we remember workers like my husband who went to work one day and never came home because he was killed by his negligent employer.  This was great step forward and Families Against Corporate Killers welcomed this move and looked forward to serious action to make workers lives safer.  The recent HSE Strategy is a huge disappointment to us as the HSE does not have the resources or will to act as a real enforcer, and make sure employers are complying with H&S law before they kill someone like my husband.”

For more information contact FACK and Sharon at 0161 636 7557


Notes to editors

Sharon Norman on Face Book

Sharon’s story of her dad’s death

FACK leaflet and aims

For more articles on FACK