news release



no embargo - 16 July 2009 ( Back to news releases)

FACK statement following the publication of the ICL report: ‘Waste of time and money and misses root causes’

An official report that failed to examine the root causes of deadly factory explosion was a waste of millions of pounds from the public purse, campaigners have said. Families Against Corporate Killers, which has provided support for relatives bereaved in the 2004 ICL Stockline disaster that killed nine workers, said inquiry head Lord Gill contrived to blame gas for the explosion when the real blame lay with poor management and inadequate oversight.

Dorothy Wright a spokesperson on behalf of families who have faced the killing of people they love by employers’ negligence and which campaigns for better H&S on reading the Summary to Lord Gills Report (1) today said:  “The ICL/Stockline explosion was no ‘tragic accident’ but death by design, both by the failures of the employer, who is the duty holder, and the H&S enforcement system.  The Report of the Public Inquiry into the explosion is disappointing in it’s avoidance of the key issue that concerns workers – how can we be sure we will be safe at work if our employers can and do flout  the law, be ignorant of the issues, and the H&S police don’t enforce until people are killed?  This report is not what we needed and those responsible within the HSE should behave with integrity and resign.””

“The Inquiry Report missed the main point which is not about LPG which was the final cause of the explosion, but about the whole health and safety system that allows directors of companies to ignore H&S, flout the law, be totally ignorant of it, treat workers badly and the HSE was toothless in not taking strong and effective enforcement action BEFORE people were killed.. An inquiry into LPG handling could have, and should have, been carried out immediately by the HSE after the explosion nearly 5 years ago and measures put into place at once to prevent such a similar event, it did not require a Public Inquiry at great cost to the tax payer and the families of those killed.  Mishandling of LPG is just the symptom of the way this employer and many others treat H&S and put their workers at risk, even killing them with relatively little fear of enforcement.  It’s the anti-H&S culture allowed to exist in workplaces and the HSE/LA’s failure to enforce that are the key issues.”

Hilda Palmer facilitator for FACK said “Just as the directors of ICL/Stockline are responsible for the decisions that led to the explosion, so the leaders of the HSE (and HSC as was) are responsible for the policies of backing away from enforcement promoted under the past HSC chair, Bill Callaghan, which prevailed at the time of the explosion.   The HSE promotes voluntary guidelines for directors to take responsibility for the way H&S is managed in their organisations, and in that spirit at the very least we expect the leadership of HSE to take full responsibility and be accountable as the buck stops at the top.”

FACK has previously criticised the Inquiry terms of reference as being too narrow and for failure to call key witnesses, such as the whistle blower Lawrence Connelly, and failing to consider all the evidence about the culture within the workplace and the response of the HSE as the enforcement agency (2).

FACK notes that Lord Gill’s report makes clear the employer’s primary and total responsibility for this avoidable disaster, and highlights the regulatory weaknesses, problems in demarcation of responsibilities between the HSE and Local Authorities and lack of communication.  The Report produce a coherent action plan to deal; with underground, metallic pipework nearly five years after the explosion.  This may explain why the HSE Press released  ’Timetable agreed for LPG pipework replacement programme’ on 30th June 2009 just one day before the Ministers were given the report (3) which is still 15 days before the families got to see it today!

Families of those killed and injured in the explosion are currently about to go into a press conference.

For more information contact Hilda Palmer 0161 636 7557 Mobile 079298 00240

1.ICL  Inquiry Summary [pdf]

2. ICL Stockline Disaster Report by Stathclyde and Stirling Universities independent academics, and other news at:

3. Government Press Release