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Health and Safety

BT Cleared Over Death of Engineer Tara Whelan

18 January 2009

CWU member Tara Whelan, a BT Engineer, died after falling from a telegraph pole near Trowbridge on Friday May 25, 2001. Tara died eight days later at Hospital in Bristol from skull injuries.

The Health and Safety Executive, brought a prosecution against her employer, BT, and after a four-week trial at Bristol Crown Court BT was acquitted of a single charge of failing to ensure the safety of their employees. After deliberating for eight-and-a-half hours, a reduced jury of ten people returned the not guilty verdict.

A CWU spokesperson said "We are of the view that the HSE were right to bring the prosecution in view of the weight of evidence and don't think anything more could have been done in respect of presenting the evidence to the court. Of course we are more than a little surprised at the verdict particularly in view of the previous the Coroners Inquest but the technical nature of the case may have made it difficult for the jury to reach a verdict as they were out for an unusually long time of over 8 and a half hours. However the court has made its decision and everyone must accept it. We will continue working with BT and the HSE to keep working at height as safe as we can for our members and of course our deepest sympathy remains with Tara's family, friends and work colleagues."