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UK company and director charged with corporate manslaughter over fatal 2015 wood dust explosion

08 November 2019

A company and its management are facing manslaughter charges in the UK courts over the deaths of four people in an explosion at a Cheshire wood products mill in July 2015.

Representative image: Shutterstock
Representative image: Shutterstock

Plant operator Wood Treatment Ltd has been charged with corporate manslaughter, Director George Boden is accused of manslaughter by gross negligence and two managers also face charges.

A four-storey building was destroyed in the blast and large fires broke out at the mill on 17 July. At the time, a firefighter described the aftermath of the explosion as "a scene of devastation". Dozens of staff members were injured in the explosions and fire.

Fires at the site continued to burn for weeks after the explosion. Crews did not leave the site until more than a month after the explosion, which reduced the mill to rubble and left a number of other employees injured, as fires continued to burn.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said the charges were the result of a "lengthy and complex" investigation by Cheshire Police and the Health and Safety Executive.

Mr Boden, from Stockport, will face four charges of manslaughter by gross negligence and one health and safety offence when he appears at Stockport Magistrates' Court on December 2.

Managers Philip Smith, from Macclesfield, and Peter Shingler, from Bosley, will appear alongside him charged with health and safety offences.

The plant made linoleum products out of wood ground down to a fine powder. There were earlier fires on the site in 2010 and 2012, and enforcement officers called at the wood mill two weeks before the 2015 explosion and fire, with the local council confirming that the company had then complied with its enforcement directives.

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