Page last updated at 12:42 GMT, Friday, 27 February 2009

Cave death safety breaches denied

Joseph Lister
Joe went missing as his party made their way out of the cave system

A county council has denied breaching health and safety law in relation to the death of a boy who drowned on a school caving trip.

Joe Lister, 14, died when floodwater swept through Manchester Hole Cave in the Yorkshire Dales in November 2005.

He was one of 11 Tadcaster Grammar School pupils visiting the cave.

A council representative indicated a not guilty plea at Harrogate Magistrates' Court. The case was committed to York Crown Court.

Chairman of the bench Michael Poole said the council would appear before a judge at the court on 6 April.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is bringing the prosecution against the council.

The prosecutions follow a joint investigation by the HSE and North Yorkshire Police.

North Yorkshire County Council, which owns and operates the outdoor education centre, faces charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974).

The charges allege the authority's failure to ensure the safety at work of its employees, including the Tadcaster Grammar School teacher who accompanied the school group.

Another charge relates to the authority's alleged failure to ensure the safety of persons not in its employment, namely the Tadcaster Grammar School pupils, including Joe Lister.

Stephen Graham, representing the council, indicated the not guilty plea.

He said he agreed with representations from the HSE that the case should be transferred to the crown court.

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