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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 July, 2004, 11:56 GMT 12:56 UK
Council cleared over boy's death
Max Palmer with mum Patricia
Tricia Palmer desperately tried to save her son Max
A county council will not be prosecuted following the death of a 10-year-old boy on a school trip, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has said.

Max Palmer, from Fleetwood, Lancashire, was swept away in a small flooded river near Glenridding, Cumbria, in May 2002.

Teacher Paul Ellis pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was jailed for one year last September.

The HSE said Lancashire County Council had not failed in its duties, but improvements could still be made.

Max, a pupil at Fleetwood Primary School was with his mother who was helping on a trip organised by Fleetwood High School when he got into difficulties and drowned in cold, fast-flowing water in Glenridding Beck.

It would be a further tragedy if children were denied such educational opportunities because teachers are scared of making a mistake
Janet Wilson, HSE
Janet Wilson HSE's North West Head of Operations, said: "We concluded that no failures by Lancashire County Council or anybody other than Paul Ellis contributed directly to the death of Max Palmer.

"Many of Lancashire County Council's corporate procedures were basically sound, although there were still areas in which improvements could be made.

"We cannot prosecute just because something goes wrong."

Council leader Hazel Harding said: "The decision not to prosecute following a detailed investigation shows there were no serious failings with the council's health and safety procedures which led to the tragic death of Max Palmer.

'Safety first'

"We have always considered as paramount the safety of children who attend schools in the county."

Margaret Dudley, headteacher at Fleetwood High, passed on condolences to Max's parents, and said: "This is a situation, which greatly affected the pupils and teachers of Fleetwood High.

"We have cooperated fully with the investigation and will be working closely with Lancashire County Council to ensure the suggestions made by the Health and Safety Executive are complied with.

"Fleetwood High will always put the safety of its pupils first."

Ms Wilson said in spite of the tragedy, school trips were an effective way of developing children's physical and personal skills.

She said: "We must learn the lessons, not destroy the opportunities. It would be a further tragedy if children were denied such educational opportunities because teachers are scared of making a mistake."

Trips warning over jailed teacher
23 Sep 03  |  Education
Drowned boy was 'exceptional'
27 May 02  |  England
'So much going for him'
27 May 02  |  England

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