Charges dropped against Taunton firework display organiser
In November 2011, seven people died and 51 were injured in a motorway pile-up involving dozens of vehicles. It was one of the UK’s worst ever road traffic accidents.
Despite reports at the time of fog and bad weather affecting the motorway, a police investigation suggested that the accident may have been caused by thick smoke from a nearby firework display organised by Taunton Rugby Club.
After determining that there was insufficient evidence to charge any driver or the rugby club, the organiser of the firework display, Geoffrey Counsell, was charged with seven counts of manslaughter. These charges were dropped earlier this month and replaced with a single charge of failing to ensure the safety of others under Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974. The new charge carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison.
The prosecution has stated that its decision to backtrack follows consultation with an expert on negligence, and new evidence coming to light. It has not indicated what this new evidence might be (and is unable to do so while the health and safety proceedings are ongoing). However, media reports suggested that there is evidence that fog, rather than smoke from the fireworks, may have been to blame…
If you are registered and logged in to the site, click on the link below to read the rest of the Shoosmiths briefing. If not, please register or sign in with your details below.
Sign in or Register to continue reading this article
It's quick, easy and free!
It takes just 5 minutes to register. Answer a few simple questions and once completed you’ll have instant access.Register now
Why register to The Lawyer
In-depth, expert analysis into the stories behind the headlines from our leading team of journalists.
Identify the major players and business opportunities within a particular region through our series of free, special reports.
Receive your pick of The Lawyer's daily and weekly email newsletters, tailored by practice area, region and job function.
More relevant to you
To continue providing the best analysis, insight and news across the legal market we are collecting some information about who you are, what you do and where you work to improve The Lawyer and make it more relevant to you.