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Crown Censure for MOD

The death of a 14-year-old army cadet has led to the Ministry of Defence (MOD) receiving an HSE Crown Censure.

Crown employers, such as the MOD, cannot face prosecution in the same way as non-Government bodies. Therefore Crown Censures are agreed procedures applied to these bodies in lieu of criminal proceedings.

The facts of the case

The Censure relates to the death of 14-year-old Kaylee McIntosh, who attended an Army Cadet camp at Loch Carnan on South Uist in August 2007.

Kaylee was one of a number of cadets being transported by boat between Loch Carnan and Loch Skipport when the boat she was in capsized. Everyone on the boat was thrown into the water, and Kaylee became trapped under the upturned hull.

Safety failings

A detailed investigation into the incident found a series of fatal errors in the planning and execution of the boat trip:

  • No head count had been taken or note made of the names of all those on board each craft, nor was there a formal record on or offshore of who was on the water.
  • No roll call was made at the point of capsize and none made immediately upon landing at the jetty at Loch Carnan.
  • The fact that Kaylee was missing was therefore not noted for some time, and there was a delay in her being located.

Kaylee was not recovered from under the upturned hull until three hours after the initial Mayday call was made. She was taken by coastguard helicopter to Western Isles Hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival.

COPFS prosecution

Major George McCallum was in charge of the boating operation, and was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Division of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

He pled guilty in November 2012 to the charge of contravening Section 7(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £5,000.

Crown Censure

As well as individual failings on the part of George McCallum, the HSE investigation also found evidence of systematic organisational failings by the MOD Army.

According to the HSE, there was evidence of poor planning, leadership and execution of the exercise, coupled with inadequate oversight, procurement, monitoring and training arrangements.

General Sir Nick Parker attended the Crown Censure meeting on the 25th January 2013, and accepted the findings on behalf of the MOD, formally acknowledging there were health and safety failures.

A Crown Censure does not involve any financial penalty, but once accepted it is an official record that the organisation failed to meet the standards set out in law.


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