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A family from Bridgend in Wales has welcomed the decision of the Gwent Crown Prosecution Service to prosecute Roy Clarke, the owner of North Eastern Roofing.

This follows the successful Judicial Review proceedings backed by the GMB union and Thompsons Solicitors against the CPS’s original decision not to bring manslaughter charges.

This was only the second time in legal history that the CPS had been brought to court in a workplace death case. In December 2006 the High Court ruled the CPS must reconsider the evidence, describing the way it interpreted the evidence as “perverse”, showing an apparent lack of understanding of health and safety law.

Today’s announcement is the end of a long campaign by the Dennis family for justice for their 17 year old son Daniel who was killed in his first week of work in April 2003.

Daniel died after falling through a skylight on the roof of a Matalan store in Cwmbran, Gwent. He had been sent to get timber being stored on the roof but had no safety training, had not been given training for working at heights, was not wearing a harness and the skylight area had not been fenced off.

Daniel’s father, Peter Dennis, had warned the employer that his son had received no prior safety training and should not work at heights.

At an inquest on 15 March 2005 in Newport, the jury took less than 10 minutes to reach a verdict of unlawful killing. After representations to the CPS the family was informed that gross negligence manslaughter charges would not be brought.

Peter Dennis, Daniel’s father, said of today’s announcement:

“At long last and after a long and difficult fight, justice for Daniel is in sight. All we have ever wanted was for this matter to be brought before a jury. All we want is for employers to be properly held to account when someone is killed in the workplace. It is now up to the Courts. If it hadn’t been for my trades union the GMB we would never have been able to fight this case.”

Allan Garley, Regional Secretary of the GMB South Western Region said:

“We are delighted for the Dennis family and for all workers. Our main priority has been to protect workers from serious injury and death. Daniels death was a tragic accident which could have been avoided. This decision should be a warning to all employers that they will be held to account for deaths and injuries at work and that the GMB will pursue them whenever such tragedies occur.”

Mick Antoniw, a partner at Thompsons Solicitors, who acts for the Dennis family said:

“This decision is the outcome of a prolonged legal battle to get the CPS to do their job and prosecute employers who fail in their health and safety duties. There are lessons for the CPS to learn. In future, it is essential they become more proactive and take a greater interest in workplace fatalities and develop greater expertise in health and safety law.”

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Further information: Mick Antoniw 07889 731768/Jennie Walsh 07711 378877
GMB contact details: Allan Garley 029 20 491260

The Dennis family are available for interview. Photos are also available.

Editors Notes:

The Dennis family campaign included: pursing the case to judicial review, addressing Wales TUC Conference, GMB National Conference, writing to all 600 members of the House of Lords in support of the new Corporate Manslaughter Act.

Recent statistics from the Health and Safety Executive show a 20% increase in deaths at work. Falls from height are the largest single cause of workplace fatalities in the Construction Industry.

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