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Charges brought over Orkney deaths

THE PRINCE'S Trust is to be prosecuted more than a year after a tragic construction accident killed two volunteers on a remote Scottish island (NCE 21 August).

The charity, whose patron is Prince Charles, will face criminal charges under the Health & Safety at Work Act, the Scottish Crown Office confirmed this week. The decision follows a lengthy investigation by the Health & Safety Executive in Scotland and the Procurator Fiscal for Orkney.

A local Angus man, believed to have been the paid team leader for the charity at the time of the accident, will also be prosecuted, together with Adult Community Training (Dundee) and the board of management of Angus College, who were responsible for running voluntary activities for the Trust.

Gary Leaburn, 25, and Derek Taylor, 19, died last August on North Ronaldsey when part of a concrete sea defence wall collapsed on top of them. The two men, both from Dundee, had been told to tunnel underneath the 3m high wall as part of work to strengthen its foundations. Neither received specific training and there were no props in place.

Executive director of the Prince's Trust Elizabeth Crowther Hunt said she was still 'deeply distressed' by the accident. 'We have worked closely with the authorities investigating this tragedy and will continue to do so. It is so important that everything possible is done to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again,' she said.

The accident highlighted a gap in current legislation which leaves the responsibility for the safety of volunteers ill defined.

A joint Charities Safety Group has been campaigning for 18 months to change the Health & Safety at Work Act and working to introduce new guidance for charities.

CSG chairman and risk management adviser for Guide Dogs for the Blind Paul Jarvis said the group would now write to the HSE director general and new health and safety minister Alan Meale 'by the end of the week' to demand a change to the law.

Matthew Jones

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