The directors of a company whose employee was crushed to death by a mechanical digger should be charged with corporate manslaughter and prosecuted, says a lawyer at Thompsons Solicitors, the leading specialist personal injury law firm.

Karen Mitchell, a partner at Thompsons' Ilford office, described the case of Albert Fuller, who was killed six years ago but whose widow Patricia has yet to receive a penny in compensation, as a tragedy caused by the neglect of the company directors.

The mechanical digger which crushed Mr Fuller in the yard at Stephenson Street, London E16 was found to have 39 mechanical faults, including loose steering, inadequate vision, defective mirrors and defective brakes. Its driver was untrained and unsupervised, there was no control of vehicles entering and leaving the site and there was no proper separation between pedestrians and vehicles.

The coroner in the case directed the jury to find that there was criminal negligence and the jury agreed that there had been "indifference by the directors".

Law must be changed to make company directors liable for deaths at work

But the Crown Prosecution Service has refused to prosecute the directors in spite of the fact that they had no Certificate of Employer Liability and that the jury at the inquest into Mr Fuller's death reached a verdict of unlawful killing.

As a result Patricia Fuller is taking the case to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) in an attempt to prove that her husband was the victim of a crime of violence. The case starts today.

"This tragic case highlights the inadequacies of our legal system," Karen Mitchell said. "Because the law makes it difficult to prove liability in corporate manslaughter cases, the CPS backed down from prosecuting, so going to the CICA was the only avenue left open to us.

"This is yet another example of why the law must be changed to make company directors liable for deaths at work. They should be prosecuted and jailed if found guilty."

Notes to editors

Albert Fuller was killed on 5 October 1994.

The CICA hearing starts today, 27 September, at 2pm at the CICAP, 11th floor, Cardinal Tower, 12 Farringdon Road, London EC1M 3HS.