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Last Updated: Monday, 16 June, 2003, 13:23 GMT 14:23 UK
Ford fined over worker's death
Peter Preston (left) and Paul McKenzie
Preston and McKenzie were in charge of Mr Shute
Car giant Ford has been fined 300,000 after a man fell into a vat of hot paint and drowned.

Technical adviser Christopher Shute, 30, was trying to stop the paint collector overflowing when he fell in at the Ford factory in Southampton.

Two contracted managers, Peter Preston, 51, and Paul McKenzie, 55, were also fined 5,000 each for failing to ensure the safety of staff.

Mr Shute's family called on the government to bring in a new offence of corporate killing after the sentencing at Winchester Crown Court.

The evidence has not been heard and justice has not been done
Anne Grundy, Mr Shute's sister

Mr Justice Stuart McKinnon said: "This was obviously an entirely unnecessary accident and death and one which was waiting to happen."

Referring to the penalties given to the two managers, Mr Justice McKinnon said: "The fines are low, that is certainly true, but they are related to the defendants' means and are not in any sense intended or seeking to put a value on the loss of human life."

Ford and the managers admitted at an earlier hearing that they failed to provide a safe system of work under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

The two men were originally charged with manslaughter following the tragedy in August 2000 but pleaded guilty to the lesser counts and the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the more serious charge.

Full inquest

Speaking outside court, Mr Shute's sister Anne Grundy said: "We were very angry that the serious charges were dropped as soon as Ford and the others offered to plead guilty to the lesser charges.

"The evidence has not been heard and justice has not been done. We are now pressing for a full inquest to find out why Christopher died."

Ford was fined 50,000 for failing to ensure the safety of its own workers and 250,000 for failing to ensure the safety of others.

The company was also ordered to pay 46,688 costs.

The Ford Motor Company said it regretted Mr Shute's death but claimed it was an "aberration" at an otherwise safe plant.




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