Tomorrow marks the fifth anniversary of the death of Matthew Hoare.
Matthew died whilst working for Watling Tyres in Canterbury when the tyre on a large loading shovel vehicle he was working on exploded killing him instantaneously. He was 21 years of age.We long since took civil proceedings on behalf of Matthew’s mother, Carolyn, against Watling Tyres, in Canterbury County Court, which were concluded successfully back in September 2008 with Carolyn receiving damages with costs.
Since then she has had a long frustrating battle to further seek justice for Matthew which has involved long unacceptable delays whilst the case has been investigated by the Health and Safety Executive, Kent Police and, ultimately, by the Crown Prosecution Service.
In April last year, Judicial Review proceedings, challenging the CPS’s decision not to prosecute for manslaughter, were successfully concluded in the High Court, with the CPS agreeing to review their existing decision with the input of an independent Senior Treasury Counsel.
The case was looked at afresh, over the course of last summer, by the CPS, in conjunction with the Police and Health and Safety Executive.
The family were kept informed, through ourselves.
Ultimately, we received notification of the fresh CPS decision on the manslaughter aspect to the case at the beginning of November.
Upon review, the CPS has decided not to prosecute for manslaughter.
Since receiving that decision we have been corresponding in detail, with the CPS, seeking further clarification of the grounds for their decision and the evidence upon which it is based. We have, in particular, pressed them to disclose the written advice of the independent Treasury Counsel on which the decision is based. Regrettably, the CPS has refused to disclose that advice.
We have also been liaising with our own Senior Barrister, John Cooper QC, who, like us, represents Carolyn free of charge.
The deadline for challenging the new CPS decision, through Judicial Review, elapses on Monday.
After much hard thought and deliberation, we have had to advise Carolyn not to proceed with fresh Judicial Review proceedings in the High Court in relation to this new decision but, instead, to focus on the Health and Safety Executive deciding whether to bring a prosecution under Health and Safety at work legislation.
The issues are complex and cannot be gone into in detail.
The basic position, however, is that the Police and Health and Safety Executive do appear to have carried out a thorough investigation and the CPS decision is of a far higher quality than its predecessor (which the High Court described as “muddled”). It is regrettable that the CPS will not fully engage with Carolyn by disclosing the barrister’s advice (claiming privilege – which we argue has been waived). That, of itself, it is not enough to justify exposing Carolyn, once again, to the risk of huge legal costs should she bring JR proceedings that prove unsuccessful.
The focus for the case now becomes the Health and Safety Executive and their decision as well as the Inquest which will follow any health and safety prosecution.
Nick Fairweather, who represents the family, commented:-
“This is a hard decision but the right one. Prosecutors have a wide discretion and the High Court does not consider challenges to such decisions lightly. They are very hard indeed to overturn.
Whilst I welcome the renewed efforts of the prosecuting authorities, I regret the fact that the CPS will not engage fully now with Carolyn in relation to the decision, particularly given the background fiasco of the earlier flawed decision standing alongside delay upon delay.
By any standards Carolyn has been given a raw deal and we expect the Health and Safety Executive to now move quickly to reach a decision on a health and safety prosecution.
We will then deal with the Inquest.
I feel very strongly that the system has let this family down and will continue to fight with Carolyn for justice for Matt.”
Matthew’s mum, Carolyn, commented:-
“Five years on all Matthew’s family and friends continue to miss him dreadfully. His loss leaves such a hole in all our lives. I am disappointed by the CPS decision but will not be deterred by it. I will continue to fight for justice for Matthew for as long as it takes ’’.