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Saturday, 01 November 2014

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Kendal Calling organisers cut corners on safety, court trial told

The organisers of a music festival have been accused in court of cutting corners on health and safety in an attempt to save money.

Related: Organiser's evidence in Kendal Calling brain injury trial

The claim came from the barrister defending a company being blamed for an accident which led to a man suffering brain damage.

A crane driver hit an 11,000 volt overhead cable while lifting a portable building into position on the Kendal Calling’s camping field in July 2010. Donald Berry, 46, from Manchester, was touching the container when the crane hit the cable, sending 6,000 volts – more than 25 times the voltage of a shock from a domestic electricity supply – through his body.

He suffered brain damage and now needs round-the-clock care.

Jason Warren Piper, 47, and his company Piper Event Services Ltd are on trial accused of breaking health and safety regulations by failing to safeguard against the “serious and obvious risk” of the cable which ran across the field, seven and a half metres above the ground. He and the company of which he is managing director have both pleaded not guilty to failing to ensure the safety of people working at the festival.

The prosecution says that, though they had been hired to advise on all aspects of safety at the Lowther Park site at Hackthorpe, they failed to warn of the cable dangers.

But in court yesterday defence barrister Julian Goose QC said it was not true that Piper’s company had been engaged as the “single point of contact” for such a wide-ranging task. He said the Kendal Calling promoters had given the company “limited instructions” – to save the expense of paying for a comprehensive health and safety plan.

But, he said, after Mr Berry’s accident Kendal Calling did “everything they could to try to push the blame away” by saying that Mr Piper and his firm were responsible.

The trial continues.

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