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Eight years since Didcot fatalities: still nothing to report

23 Feb Today, 23rd February 2023, marks the eighth anniversary of the partial collapse at Didcot Power Stationthat claimed the lives of four men.

Part of the Didcot A boiler house collapsed prematurely, killing four men
Part of the Didcot A boiler house collapsed prematurely, killing four men

Thames Valley Police and the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) have spent eight years investigating the deaths of demolition workers Michael Collings, Ken Cresswell, Christopher Huxtable and John Shaw.

The demolition industry has been waiting eight years to be advised what lessons should be learned to prevent such an unplanned collapse happening again.

On this, the eight anniversary of the incident, the HSE has nothing to say other than to refer all inquiries to Thames Valley Police. The police say, simply, that they are continuing to investigate offences of corporate manslaughter, gross negligence manslaughter and health & safety offences.

Four men working for demolition specialist Coleman & Company were killed on 23rd February 2016 during the demolition of Didcot A power station. They were working in the boiler house when part of the structure came down prematurely. Because of the precarious nature of the remaining structure, it took 201 days to retrieve all four bodies.

Some 870 tonnes of rubble was removed as forensic evidence and analysed at the HSE Science Division facility in Buxton, Derbyshire.  Eight years on, we still are not being told what – if anything – has been learned.

Thames Valley Police deputy chief constable Ben Snuggs said today : “As always our thoughts remain with the families of Michael Collings, Ken Cresswell, Christopher Huxtable and John Shaw following the loss of their loved ones. Thames Valley Police, together with the Health & Safety Executive, remains totally committed to rigorously investigating the collapse, and I am very conscious of the time it is taking to investigate those circumstances.

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“We maintain regular contact with the families, and continue to provide updates and support through our dedicated family liaison officers and investigation team.

“This investigation is significant and complex with vast amounts of witness, digital and physical evidence, and we continue to make good progress with further suspect and key witness interviews.

“We are also in close liaison with the Crown Prosecution Service and continue to provide appropriate updates to key stakeholders and interested parties.

“It is our responsibility and duty to investigate thoroughly, following all reasonable lines of enquiry and we will do everything we can to provide answers to the families.”

Duncan Rudall, chief executive of the National Federation of Demolition Contractors (NFDC), said. “Eight years have passed and there has been little resolution for the families of Michael Collings, Ken Cresswell, Christopher Huxtable and John Shaw, who sadly lost their lives because of the Didcot Power Station collapse. All of us expected that the subsequent investigation would provide much needed answers. Unfortunately, closure has yet to be forthcoming, but in any incident of this nature, we must remain patient and trust the process, to ensure investigations are carried out properly and thoroughly. Only then can we ensure the outcome is the correct one and a similar tragedy is avoided in the future.”

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