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Home Blog Fireworks operator not guilty over display on night of fatal M5 pile-up
Written by Administrator   |   10 December 2013

Fireworks operator not guilty over display on night of fatal M5 pile-up

A fireworks organiser in charge of a display blamed for causing one of the UK's worst motorway pile-ups has fiercely criticised police and health and safety chiefs after he was cleared of any wrongdoing. Geoffrey Counsell claimed that his prosecution was motivated by a "desire to find someone to blame for this terrible accident" and insisted that his display had not created the deadly white-out conditions on the M5 in Somerset. However, some relatives of the seven who died and 51 injured in the pile-up on the evening before bonfire night in 2011 said they were devastated that the judge had halted the trial and said there was still confusion over what had happened.

The legal proceedings against Counsell have been long and tortuous following the crash on the evening before bonfire night in 2011.After a year-long police investigation Counsell was charged with the manslaughter of seven people but that case was dropped this year. Last month he went on trial at Bristol crown court accused of breaching health and safety rules by failing to ensure the safety of the public. The jury was told that smoke from Counsell's fireworks had mingled with mist to create an "impenetrable smog" that caused the crash.On Tuesday a judge told the jury to find Counsell, 51, not guilty after ruling the case against him was based on hindsight and there was no way he could have anticipated the conditions that were created that night. 

This case still highlights the need to have a comprehensive Event Management Plan in place for all your events including comprehensive risk assessments for all your activities.