On 19 March, Chief Executive of Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd, Nick Varney will be the first passenger on the reopened Smiler ride at Alton Towers.

The Smiler was closed on 2nd June 2015 following a collision of a carriage with a stationary carriage causing severe injuries to five people and resulting in two individuals requiring leg amputations.

Merlin Attractions Operations are being prosecuted by the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) and will be appearing at North Staffordshire Justice Centre on 22 April 2016 to face a charge under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

In November 2015 Merlin released a press briefing stating the accident was a consequence of “human error”.

Although human factors are always a significant part of any workplace incident, this is rarely considered to be a defence. Indeed, health and safety legislation lays responsibility so firmly on the duty holder that very few defences are available.

We shall be monitoring proceedings carefully to see what aggravating and mitigating features may emerge.

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