A building company has been fined £10,000 after a huge advertising billboard featuring the face of Kate Moss crushed more than a dozen shoppers on London’s Oxford Street.
Around 20 shoppers outside the Mango store were injured when one tonne of fencing plastered with the supermodel’s face fell in March 2012, Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard.
The court was told that three people suffered “life-changing” injuries in the incident, including a woman who suffered damage to her vertebrae and was left unable to work.
Her husband suffered a broken back in the incident and a third victim broke her ankle in the resulting crush.
Building firm Oracle Interiors admitted that the fencing breached regulations during a refit of the shop.
Chief magistrate Nina Toller ordered the company to pay a £10,000 fine and £13,000 legal costs.
The trio that were severely injured in the crush are currently pursuing civil claims against the company, the court heard.
The Health and Safety Executive, which brought the prosecution, said the 3.6m high structure – which weighed 0.8 tonnes – was held by just a single wooden beam. This in turn was attached to the store front by only two screws.
Construction workers at the site said that they had seen the screws coming loose just moments before the hoarding was blown to the ground by a gust of wind – but added that they were unable to stop the accident occurring.
The Kate Moss advert for Mango had been added to the fencing around the closed shop the day before the incident.
No risk assessment
On-site builders increased the fencing height from the standard 2.4m to 3.6m in a bid to stop debris from the refit project potentially hitting shoppers, the court was told.
Yet no risk assessment was carried out to judge the safety of the heavy structure and its ability to withstand winds – and no design plan for the structure existed, HSE inspector Wendy Garnett said.
Dominic Kay, who represented the construction firm, said that his client was not a “cowboy company” and it was an “isolated incident”.
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Date Published: December 5, 2014
Author: David Brown