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Thursday, 12 September, 2002, 22:06 GMT 23:06 UK
Anger at Mint man's accident death
Royal Mint sign
Mr Wynne was struck by heavy machinery
The family of a man killed in an accident at the Royal Mint are angry at an archaic law which means no one will be prosecuted over his death.

John Wynne, 50, was killed when a six-tonne furnace fell on him at the Royal Mint in Llantrisant, South Wales, in June 2001.


This law means they have gotten away with it

Tina Wynne, victim's widow

Health and Safety officials have said there is a clear-cut case against the Royal Mint but they cannot seek a prosecution because it has Crown immunity.

The rules mean that Crown properties are not covered by the UK's normal criminal liability and health and safety legislation.

But a proposed Bill to cover Crown property under UK law has been drawn up.

Mr Wynne's family said the Royal Mint was using the ancient and outdated law to sweep his death under the carpet.

His widow Tina Wynne said she was told the details of what had happened and she was shocked.

"There was an incident in September and if maintenance had checked it, this would never have happened, they would have realised it was faulty.

"This was an accident waiting to happen and my husband lost his life over it."

Mrs Wynne said the ancient laws protecting the Royal Mint from prosecution were "stupid".

"I am bitter and angry and it is so frustrating that you cannot do anything and I just wanted somebody held responsible.

"My husband lost his life at the Mint and nobody has lost their job. I have lost everything. Nothing will bring him back to me and I will have to live with that."

She added: "This law means they have gotten away with it."

A Royal Mint spokesperson said the accident was "deeply regretted".

Mr Wynne had worked at the Mint for more than 21 years when was killed by the furnace falling from a crane.

A hearing of Crown Censure Proceedings by the Health and Safety Executive was told his death was "an accident waiting to happen".

Confidential report

An HSE statement read: "The judgement of the presiding officer was that, but for Crown immunity, there would have been sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of a conviction in the courts."

Management at the Royal Mint accepted responsibility for Mr Wynne's death but were spared a public hearing at Thursday's proceedings in Cardiff which were behind closed doors.

A confidential report will be issued to the Health and Safety Executive, the Royal Mint and the government - but not to the Wynne family.

The family's solicitor Cathryn Davies said: "The Mint will not have to face the same legal procedure as other companies in these tragic circumstances.

"Mr Wynne's wife and daughter feel the matter is being swept under the carpet because the Mint has this immunity."

'Frustrated and disturbed'

"They are still not able to come to terms with their loss knowing this was an accident that could have been avoided."

She added: "They are understandably frustrated and disturbed that the hearing was not in public and that the Mint cannot be prosecuted in the usual way."

An inquest into Mr Wynne's death will be held later this year.

The Royal Mint spokesman added: "The Mint has always taken its responsibilities towards safety seriously and has worked closely and constructively with the HSE throughout and will continue to cooperate fully with them.

"The Mint has already put in place additional procedures to minimise, further, any workplace risks.

"To that end, the Mint has reviewed its activities in the area to seek further improvements."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Tina Wynne, victim's wife
"I just think these rules are so wrong; I have lost my husband, they have lost nothing"
BBC Wales' Nick Palit
"This accident could have been avoided with inexpensive safety checks"

More news from south east Wales
See also:

09 Jul 99 | Business
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