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Last Updated: Friday, 22 June 2007, 15:07 GMT 16:07 UK
BBC 'failings' over Hammond crash
Richard Hammond (courtesy Top Gear Magazine)
The presenter surprised doctors with his speedy recovery
Investigators have identified failings by the BBC over the Top Gear crash that nearly killed host Richard Hammond but found no grounds for prosecution.

The Health and Safety Executive spotted failings in "risk assessment and the procurement of services from others".

But the HSE also identified safety precautions in place that "almost certainly saved Mr Hammond's life".

A BBC spokesman said the lessons from this and its own forthcoming report would be applied across the BBC.

Richard Hammond crashed while driving a jet-powered car at speeds up to 300mph at Elvington airfield, near York, last September.

"The immediate cause of the accident was a catastrophic failure of the Vampire's front offside tyre at 288mph on the seventh high-speed run of the day," reported the HSE.

It said that the tyre had been damaged on the previous run, but that this was not visible immediately before Mr Hammond drove again.

The HSE found that Mr Hammond's life had "almost certainly" been saved by safety features including:

  • the build of the Vampire car, which survived the crash intact
  • the "driver restraint arrangements", and choice of crash helmet worn by Mr Hammond
  • emergency services on site

The safety regulator also highlighted precautions including the decision not to deploy camera crews along the side of the runway.

We intend to ensure that all the lessons learned are applied as soon as possible
BBC spokesman

The failings and other recommendations were being pursued with the parties involved, the HSE said.

It identified a failing on risk assessment by Primetime Land Speed Engineering, the company which owned the car and trained Mr Hammond.

"However, when viewed against HSE's enforcement criteria, none of these failings merit prosecution," it added.

The BBC spokesman said: "The BBC places the highest priority on safety.

"We intend to ensure that all the lessons learned from both the HSE report and the BBC's own internal investigation are applied across the whole of the BBC production community as soon as possible."

Richard Hammond's crash
The car skidded and flipped over after a tyre burst
A statement from Primetime said that while it did not agree with all of the HSE report, it was a "fair view of the events".

"The HSE's recommendations have been noted and will be actioned accordingly," it said.

The statement added: "The report reveals lessons to be learned by all, and we are delighted to see that the BBC's driver appears to have made a complete recovery. We wish him and his family well."

The investigation also identified issues for the industry as a whole "about the preparation and training of presenters for such activities", the HSE said.

Richard Hammond suffered serious brain injuries in the crash, but doctors hailed a "remarkable" recovery that enabled him to leave hospital five weeks later.

The first showing of Richard Hammond's crash

BBC airs Top Gear crash footage
28 Jan 07 |  Entertainment
TV presenter suffers brain injury
21 Sep 06 |  North Yorkshire
Profile: Richard Hammond
20 Sep 06 |  Entertainment


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