Merlin Attractions, the owner of Alton Towers theme park, has pleaded guilty to one count of breaching health and safety regulations following a rollercoaster crash last summer that left five people seriously injured.
Two cars on the Smiler rollercoaster at Alton Towers, Staffordshire, crashed mid-ride last June and left two young women requiring leg amputations. In February, the Health and Safety Executive decided there was enough evidence to prosecute, and on Friday, Merlin pleaded guilty to an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
“This will be the most important health and safety criminal case for many years,” said Peter Binning, partner at law firm Corker Binning. “It is extremely fortunate that nobody died but the court will undoubtedly impose a strong deterrent sentence. The breach of the company’s health and safety duty of care arose from a human error when an operator decided to override a safety system.”
Mr Binning added that Merlin face a fine “measured in millions” and that the court has “unlimited sentencing power”.
“The court is bound by statute to ensure that the fine reflects the seriousness of the offence. There will be a very high fine and this case will be a landmark in securing higher standards of health and safety, which will make all companies and those that manage and work in them take notice of the severe penalties available to the courts.”
Read the full article on the FT here.
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