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26 July 2017 Harlow G4S fail to overturn £1.8million fine after worker contracts Legionnaires' disease

posted 31 Jul 2017, 00:44 by Ian Clarenbone

Harlow company that failed to protect workers from contracting a serious lung infection has lost a court appeal. G4S Cash Solutions was inspected by Harlow Council in 2013 after a worker contracted Legionnaires' disease, a flu-like disease spread by bacteria that grows in certain water temperatures. According to a report, environmental health officers found a 'serious lack of compliance in maintaining water systems at the site,' with 'erratic monitoring and testing systems,' among a long list of failings.

It also stated the company failed to fully take steps required to improve.

The security firm was fined £1.8million in September 2016 and, after their initial appeal was thrown out, G4S then renewed their application for leave to appeal the sentence. At the Court of Appeal in London on July 12 the company claimed the fine was excessive. G4S argued their culpability rating of 'very high' should be reduced to 'high' which could have reduced the punishment.

In giving judgement, Judge Alison Russell QC stated that it was difficult to see how any argument could reduce the characterisation of culpability as 'very high' within the sentencing guidelines. She said G4S was aware of legal obligations and over a period of four-and-half years it failed to act, which could only be viewed as a blatant and flagrant disregard of compliance with statutory obligations.


Harlow councillor Danny Purton, portfolio holder for environment, said: "I am pleased the court has upheld the level of fine originally handed down to G4S in full. Although G4S did make some improvements to its practises it was aware of its legal obligations to protect its staff and visitors from exposure to Legionella bacteria and, over a period of four-and-a-half years, it had failed to act. Once again I want to congratulate Harlow Council's environmental health and legal teams for their hard work and professionalism in securing a successful outcome."