Cotswold Airport believes its conviction is "legally unsafe"

Cotswold Airport ask ombudman to investigate safety claims

Cotswold Airport ask ombudman to investigate safety claims

First published in News
Last updated
Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Brendan McFadden
Wilts and Glos Standard by , Reporter

A COTSWOLD company fined for a breach of health and safety regulations which resulted in the death of one of its staff has complained to the parliamentary ombudsman, alleging that a government agency committed the same breach.

Suzannah Harvey, chief executive of Cotswold Airport, Kemble, claims the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) should face the same health and safety regulation charges as the airport.

Kemble Air Services Limited (KAS) was heard to have committed two health and safety breaches that were said to have contributed to the death of its chief fire officer, Steve Mills, at Gloucester Crown Court in March.

The company was subsequently fined £75,000.

The court heard that the airport was given several containers by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and that inside the containers were fire-suppression cylinders.

Mr Mills, 45, was killed on April 8, 2011, when one of the cylinders suddenly discharged and hit him on the head while he was moving it.

A jury decided KAS, which denied the charges, did not put guidelines in place for the safe use of the cylinders.

But KAS allege that the Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL), which was carrying out work on behalf of the HSE, committed similar breaches when collecting the cylinder that killed Steve from the airport.

They have now raised the issue with the parliamentary ombudsman, Dame Julie Mellor, and asked for it to be thoroughly investigated.

The request has been endorsed by Cotswold MP Geoffrey Clifton Brown.

Ms Harvey said she obtained a copy of an HSL report which examined the collection of the cylinder.

She explained that she believes the report proves that similar health and safety breaches were made by the HSL staff when collecting the cylinder.

She claims a proper risk assessment wasn’t carried out before it was removed – ”only did a dynamic risk assessment, the same as we did, which is in fact unlawful."

She said the report details how an HSL staff member discharged the cylinder accidentally whilst examining it after being told it was empty and that the cylinder was transported by HSL staff from airport without its safety cap on.

She believes this makes the airport’s conviction legally ‘unsafe’ .

Ronan Harvey, a shareholder of the airport, said that given their potential risk, he thought theMoD should not have given out the containers to an unqualified body.

A spokesman for the MoD said in a statement to the Standard: “Our thoughts are with Mr Mills’ family and friends at this time.

“The results of internal investigations were passed to the independent coroner who reviewed the circumstances of Mr Mills’ death alongside reports from the police and the Health and Safety Executive.”

Comments (2)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

11:00am Fri 29 Aug 14

GWS Observer says...

The attempt by the Chief Executive of Cotswold Airport to overturn the conviction of Kemble Air Services Ltd (KAS) for a breach in health and safety regulations, which resulted in the death of one of their own staff, does seem very contrived. What did, or did not, take place in the collection of what was after all the empty cylinder which had already been discharged in this tragic accident, cannot absolve KAS from accepting responsibility for a very serious health and safety breach in which they have been convicted by a jury. This really is really clutching at straws ... Doubtless, the Parliamentary Ombudsman will conclude the same if, indeed, it is within her jurisidiction to determine.
The attempt by the Chief Executive of Cotswold Airport to overturn the conviction of Kemble Air Services Ltd (KAS) for a breach in health and safety regulations, which resulted in the death of one of their own staff, does seem very contrived. What did, or did not, take place in the collection of what was after all the empty cylinder which had already been discharged in this tragic accident, cannot absolve KAS from accepting responsibility for a very serious health and safety breach in which they have been convicted by a jury. This really is really clutching at straws ... Doubtless, the Parliamentary Ombudsman will conclude the same if, indeed, it is within her jurisidiction to determine. GWS Observer
  • Score: 1

9:59am Sat 30 Aug 14

dopey1 says...

I have worked with these gas cyliners and I believe that I helped to prevent similar accidents as happened at Kemble by recognising the danger of a large quantity of gas, stored under pressure and doing something about it to protect personnel.

To my mind the MOD should have made these cylinders safe, by discharging them, before they passed them to a third party. What they did was the same as passing on a loaded weapon which, as a government department dealing with weapons, they should know all about!
I have worked with these gas cyliners and I believe that I helped to prevent similar accidents as happened at Kemble by recognising the danger of a large quantity of gas, stored under pressure and doing something about it to protect personnel. To my mind the MOD should have made these cylinders safe, by discharging them, before they passed them to a third party. What they did was the same as passing on a loaded weapon which, as a government department dealing with weapons, they should know all about! dopey1
  • Score: 4

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree