Page last updated at 11:06 GMT, Friday, 22 May 2009 12:06 UK

Digger death company closed down

Christina Fraser
Christina Fraser was on her way home from work when the accident happened

A haulage firm at the centre an accident that led to a woman's death has been put out of business by the Traffic Commissioner.

A 30-tonne digger rolled off a transport lorry and hit a car killing passenger Christina Fraser, 24, on the A9 in Ross-shire in July 2006.

Munro & Sons (Highland) Ltd admitted a breach of health and safety law.

A public inquiry in March heard 28 prohibitions were issued against the firm for safety breaches since 2005.

These included defects that led to Ms Fraser's death as well as problems with brakes, oil leaks and loose wheel nuts.

There can be no more victims
Joan Aitken
Traffic Commissioner

Prior to the inquiry, held in March, the company had appeared at inquiries in 1997, 2004 and 2005.

As well as withdrawing the company's operating licence, Traffic commissioner Joan Aitken disqualified former director Pamela Munro for two years.

Driver Kenneth Finlayson, who was involved in an accident on the A9 last year and whose name appeared in a number of prohibitions, was disqualified for 12 months.

Customers of Munro & Sons (Highland) Ltd, which is part of a wider operation, have been informed of the action taken.

The customers include Highland Council, Inverness College and RAF Kinloss in Moray.

In her written decision, which details the accident that led to Ms Fraser's death, Ms Aitken said: "There can be no more victims."

She added: "Clearly, my orders will have significant impacts on the business including perhaps job losses and that steps will have to be taken to adjust the operation of the wider business."

The traffic commissioner concluded : "Disqualified operators often seek to re-emerge in other corporate form.

"I warn other operators and persons to be very wary of providing a front for continued operation by Messrs Munro."

Lift home

Munro & Sons (Highland) Ltd admitted a breach of health and safety law and was fined last April.

In January, appeal judges increased the firm's fine of £3,750 to £30,000 to "bring home" the consequences of the 2006 fatal accident.

Lord Nimmo Smith, who gave the ruling at the Court of Criminal Appeal, said lorry driver Walter MacLennan was not to be blamed but the fault lay with individuals higher up in the company.

Scotland's senior judge, the Lord Justice General, Lord Hamilton, said the original fine "took inadequate account of the nature of the offence itself and the need for appropriate punishment in the public interest".

Ms Fraser had been getting a lift home with a colleague from her beautician's job in Inverness when the accident happened between Tain and Alness.

Her husband-to-be came across the accident while driving to play football.

No-one was available to comment at Munro & Sons (Highland) Ltd.

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