Thursday, August 02, 2007

Sometimes Tragic Accidents Just Happen

A headteacher of “impeccable character” faces an unlimited fine and further civil action after being convicted over the death of a three-year-old pupil who fell from playground steps while pretending to be Batman.

Kian Williams wandered into the out-of-bounds area of the school in Bangor, Gwynedd, and jumped down the steps, tripping on the last one and landing on his head. He suffered swelling of the brain and died in hospital from pneumonia five weeks later. James Porter, 66, the owner and head of the private school where it happened, was charged with breaching health and safety regulations by failing to ensure the children’s safety.

A jury convicted him after five and a half hours of deliberation on a majority of 11-1.

His real crime?

Being unaware of the latest Health & Safety guidelines and speaking the truth.

Porter, who has run the school with his wife, Sylvia, 61, for over 30 years with an exemplary safety record, had said children should not be “wrapped in cotton wool”.

"They need to learn how to move in any given situation in a way that will protect them from injury.Children are designed to protect themselves, so if they stumble they will protect themselves. If they don’t have that facility, if we simply wrap them in cotton wool, they will never learn that lesson.”

Catherine Leech, the Williams’ solicitor, had this chilling message,

“We hope other schools learn this lesson from this."

Err, what lessons are these, Catherine? That playtime is too dangerous? That ignoring stupid bureaucratic regulations are punishable by career death? This is a tragedy, but it is also a tragic accident.

via Samizdata