An HSE inspector prosecuting a theme-park firm over the death of a worker ended up in the dock owing to her behaviour in court.
Inspector Helen Diamond was fined £2000 at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court on 10 November after being found in contempt of court. The charge related to her behaviour in court and towards a defence witness during the trial of Parkware Ltd, owner of the Loudoun Castle theme park in Galston, Ayrshire.
Martin Smith, who worked as a ride operator at the theme park at the time of the incident, who had given evidence for the defence, was later approached in the common area outside the court room by Diamond who asked him what his degree was in, and when he replied accountancy she told him it could have been in drama after his “performance”.
Then, while another defence witness was giving evidence, Sheriff Elizabeth McFarlane noticed the inspector pulling faces and shaking her head in the public gallery, although the Sheriff decided not to bring her behaviour to the court’s attention at this point.
Susan Duff, who was representing Parkware, made a motion to the court to have Diamond excluded because of the incident with Smith. Sheriff McFarlane agreed and told Diamond that she was considering whether her actions were in contempt. The trial ended on 10 October, with Parkware found not guilty of a contravention of section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974, at which point Diamond was recalled to answer a charge of contempt of court, which she accepted.
Diamond was fined £2000 by the Court and a further £500 by HSE plus has been banned from promotion for 3 years and been issued a final written warning.
A spokesperson for the Health & Safety Executive said: “This is a matter of great regret to both the inspector and the HSE. We accept and understand the decision of the court, and HSE has taken its own disciplinary action against the individual, in addition to the sentence imposed by the court. We expect the highest standards of conduct from all our employees and regret what happened in this case.”
The HSE also confirmed that it intends to write to its field staff to “remind them about court etiquette”.