Swansea mine deaths: charges confirmed

Swansea mine deaths: charges confirmed

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Author: Phil Ryan

Malcolm Fyfield, a manager at the mine where four men lost their lives in 2011, has been charged with four counts of gross negligence manslaughter.

MNS Mining Ltd, which owns the mine, also faces charges of corporate manslaughter for failing to put in place a safe system of work.

Seven miners had been working with explosives when they broke into an old mine that had been flooded. Water quickly filled up the mine the men were working in. Mr Fyfield was seriously injured, but managed to escape by climbing through a ventilation shaft. He was immediately rushed to hospital where he remained for four weeks. Two others escaped. The remaining miners were found dead after a 30-hour rescue.

The police investigated whether the miners had been in breach of health and safety regulations at the time of the accident, and specifically whether they allowed the minimum safe distance for working with explosives next to underground water of 37m.

The CPS said: "We have concluded there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and that it is in the public interest to charge mine manager Malcolm Fyfield with four counts of gross negligence manslaughter.

"MNS Mining Limited has also been summonsed for four counts of corporate manslaughter. The prosecution alleges that because of the way in which its activities were managed or organised by its senior management, namely Malcolm Fyfield, the company caused the deaths of the miners by failing to ensure a safe system of working was in place."

The fact that Mr Fyfield, has been charged with manslaughter - which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment - despite having almost lost his own life in the incident, is a grim reminder of the liability faced by senior managers following a workplace accident.