HSE to prosecute manufacturing company following Red Arrow pilot death

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has informed an ejection seat manufacturer that it will be prosecuted following the death of Flt Lt Sean Cunningham on 8th November 2011.

HSE’s Inspector David Butter said:

“HSE has today informed Martin Baker Aircraft Ltd that it will be prosecuted for an alleged breach of health and safety law. The charges relate to the death of Flt Lt Sean Cunningham in November 2011 at RAF Scampton.

“We have conducted a thorough investigation and consider there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to bring a prosecution.”

HSE was handed primacy of the investigation following a MOD Service Inquiry, investigations by the civilian and military police, and technical investigations involving the Military Aviation Authority and the Military Air Accident Investigation Branch.

Flt Lt Cunningham was a Red Arrows pilot. He died after his ejector seat initiated during the pre-flight checks of his Hawk XX177 jet while on the ground and stationary at the Lincolnshire airbase.

Martin Baker Aircraft Company Ltd, Lower Road, Higher Denham, bear Uxbridge will appear at Lincoln Magistrates Court, date to be confirmed, to face a Section 3 Charge under the Health and Safety of Work Act.


  1. The alleged breach is Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, which states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”
  2. Now that criminal proceedings have commenced your attention is drawn to the fact that the provisions of the Contempt of Court Act apply to this matter. You will understand that it is not appropriate for HSE to give media interviews until court proceedings are concluded.
  3. You are advised to check the time and date of the hearing with the Court nearer the time to ensure that the case has not been put back.
  4. The Code for Crown Prosecutors sets out the principles for prosecutors to follow when they make enforcement decisions. HSE’s approach to prosecutions is set out in its enforcement policy statement.
  5. For the list of Ministry of Defence Service Inquiries visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/service-inquiry-si

Article source: http://press.hse.gov.uk/2016/hse-to-prosecute-manufacturing-company-following-red-arrow-pilot-death/