The GMB trade union says companies who kill employees will face private prosecutions if the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) ‘continues to fail workers’.
The High Court has ordered that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) must reconsider its decision not to prosecute North-Eastern Roofing, the employer of teenager Daniel Dennis, who fell to his death within a week of starting work with the firm in April 2003.
Daniel Dennis, from Pyle, Bridgend, in Wales, was 17 and had just started his first real job working for the roofing company. He died after falling through a skylight on the roof of a Matalan store in Cwmbran, Gwent.
It took an inquest jury at Newport less than ten minutes to reach a verdict of unlawful killing in March 2005. But the CPS decided in March 2006 that there was ‘no realistic prospect that a criminal prosecution would succeed’.
The GMB backed Daniel’s father, Peter, in asking Lord Justice Waller and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones, sitting in London, to quash the CPS decision not to bring a prosecution for gross negligence manslaughter.
Lord Justice Waller ruled last Friday that there had been ‘failures’ over the factors which influenced the CPS not to prosecute.
The judge said that a solicitor acting for the CPS did not take into account the ‘seriousness of a failure to give proper instruction not to go on the roof prior to induction or proper instruction’ and that the CPS had not taken sufficient account of the inquest jury’s verdict.
The court said the matter should be referred back to the CPS and that it was possible that a different decision could be made when these factors are taken into consideration. However, Lord Justice Waller said the final decision still rests with the CPS.
The GMB is looking into taking private prosecutions over cases of suspected workplace killings which are not taken to the courts by the CPS, following the failure of the government’s long-promised amendments to the Corporate Killing Act to appear.
Daniel’s father Peter Dennis said: ‘This decision gives us some hope this new year that justice for Daniel will finally be achieved.’
He added: ‘We’ve done this for Daniel, and because we don’t want other innocent families to suffer as we have.’
Allan Garley, GMB South West Regional Secretary, said: ‘Referring the case back to the CPS is a victory in itself and we’re delighted for the family of Daniel Dennis.
‘Daniel’s death was a tragic accident which could and should have been avoided.’
A GMB spokesman confirmed to News Line yesterday that if following the court ruling the CPS do not prosecute, ‘we’ll take out a private prosecution’.