CPS vetoes manslaughter probe over death at foot of Aedas tower
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has advised against opening a new investigation into the death of a man at the base of Aedas’ Bridgewater Place tower in Leeds
Last March Ed Slaney, 36, was killed and when a lorry ‘floated through the air like a hot-air balloon’ in gale-force winds and landed on him close to the landmark skyscraper.
An inquest into his death was adjourned in February so the CPS could consider corporate manslaughter charges.
This week a CPS spokesperson confirmed the prosecutor had decided against a fresh investigation into the matter.
They said: ‘The CPS has considered the papers sent by the Coroner and has advised the police and Coroner on the relevant law in this matter. The decision on whether or not to re-open an investigation is a matter for the police.’
Dangerous winds around the base of the 32-storey skyscraper – the tallest tower in Yorkshire – were reported shortly after it opened in 2007. In July 2008 the AJ reported that Aedas was potentially looking at adding ‘fins’ to the building and trying to ‘identify possible solutions’ to what Leeds City Council described as a ‘wind-tunnel effect’. The inquest was told of a series of wind-related incidents, which include a report of a policeman being blown off his bicycle.
On the day of Slaney’s death ‘freakishly high’ speeds of between 67mph and 79mph were recorded at Bridgewater Place.
A West Yorkshire Police spokesperson confirmed a fresh investigation was not on the cards: ‘After the death of Dr Edward Slaney in Leeds last year a thorough and detailed investigation into the exact circumstances of the incident was carried out.
‘The matter was referred by the coroner to the CPS who reviewed the evidence to see if a criminal investigation was merited. The advice from the CPS was that an investigation was not merited and we have accepted this decision.’
As reported by the AJ in February (AJ 16.02.12), the likelihood of corporate manslaughter charges being brought against Aedas were always unlikely. The relevant legislation, the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act, did not come into force until 2008 - a year after the tower was completed - and is not retrospective.
An investigation by the Yorkshire Post last year (2011) uncovered a catalogue of ‘alleged wind-related incidents’ which had occured since the building completed in 2007.
Examples of the reported incidents:
- a woman needed 10 stitches to a knee injury and suffered a torn liver, internal bleeding and burns to her chest from soup she was carrying when she was blown off her feet and into a wall, according to her solicitors.
- a police officer was blown from his bike near Bridgewater Place in December 2009.
- a buggy with a three-month-old child was blown over while crossing the road in January 2011.
- two women seen ‘clinging to lampposts’ in high winds in February 2011.