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HSE media statement: HSE to prosecute Alton Towers’ owners after ‘Smiler’ incident

Date:
25 February 2016

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has today informed Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd that it will be prosecuted over an incident in which five people were seriously injured on a rollercoaster ride at Alton Towers in Staffordshire.

Two female passengers on the ‘Smiler’ ride suffered leg amputations and three others were also seriously injured when their carriage collided with a stationary carriage on the same track. The incident happened on 2 June 2015.

Merlin Attractions Operation Ltd based in Poole, Dorset, will appear at North Staffordshire Justice Centre, Newcastle-under-Lyme on 22 April 2016 to face a charge under the Health and Safety at Work Act etc, 1974.

Neil Craig, head of operations for HSE in the Midlands said:

“We have today informed Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd that it will be prosecuted for breaching health and safety law.

“This was a serious incident with life-changing consequences for five people.

“We have conducted a very thorough investigation and consider that there is sufficient evidence and that it is in the public interest to bring a prosecution.”

Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd is the company responsible for Alton Towers and under health and safety law is responsible for managing the risks created by the operation of the theme park’s rides.

(Ends)

 Notes to Editors

  1. Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd are alleged to have breached Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, which states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.” Specifically that: “On and before the 2nd June 2015, being an employer within the meaning of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (“the Act”), Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd failed to discharge the duty imposed on it by section 3(1) of the Act, in that it failed to conduct its undertaking, namely the operation of its Alton Towers Resort, in such a way as to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, that persons not in its employment who may have been affected thereby, were not exposed to risks to their health or safety, namely the risks associated with the operation of the Smiler roller coaster, whereby it is guilty of an offence contrary to Section 33(1)(a) of the Act”.
  2. Now that criminal proceedings have commenced your attention is drawn to the fact that the provisions of the Contempt of Court Act apply to this matter. You will understand that it is not appropriate for HSE to give media interviews until court proceedings are concluded.
  3. You are advised to check the time and date of the hearing with the Court nearer the time to ensure that the case has not been put back.
  4. The Code for Crown Prosecutors sets out the principles for prosecutors to follow when they make enforcement decisions. HSE’s approach to prosecutions is set out in its enforcement policy statement.

 

 

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