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TEACHER PLEADS GUILTY FOLLOWING DROWNING

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Paul Ellis, a teacher from Fleetwood High School, has pleaded guilty ...
Paul Ellis, a teacher from Fleetwood High School, has pleaded guilty

today of manslaughter at Manchester Crown Court.

The prosecution, brought by the Crown Prosecution Service, followed

the death of Max Palmer, a 10-year-old boy, in May 2002. Max was with

his mother who was helping with a trip from the school to the Lake

District organised by Paul Ellis. Mr Ellis led an activity which was

to jump into a natural rock pool in Glenridding Beck. Max got into

difficulties in cold and turbulent water, and was swept out of the

pool and down the beck.

Mr Ellis was also charged under Section 7 of the Health and Safety at

Work Act. It was alleged that he had not taken reasonable care of

other people who entered the pool, including Mrs Palmer and a pupil

from the school, who were airlifted to hospital suffering from

hypothermia.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) head of operations Janet Wilson

said: 'Outdoor adventure trips have great value in developing young

people, and offer an excellent opportunity for risk education. The

vast majority take place without serious incident.

'HSE would not want to see school trips stopped, or teachers refuse

to lead them, as a result of this prosecution. But it is essential

that they are planned properly and carried out safely. We know that

most teachers put the safety of their pupils at the top of their

agenda, and follow good practice.

'HSE and the police have worked together on the investigation that

led to this case. We are still considering whether health and safety

charges should be brought against any other parties. We have also

been active in ensuring that schools and education authorities learn

the lessons from this tragic event.

The Department for Education and Skills and the Health and Safety

Commission have produced comprehensive guidance for organisations

that conduct adventure activities. This guidance is to assist them in

setting up systems and p rocedures that better support teachers and

others leading adventure trips.

Advice on the planning and organisation of visits can be found on the

DfES website at http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/visits

Note

1. Section 7(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act (HSWA)

1974 states: It shall be the duty of every employee while at work to

take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and other

persons who may be affected by his acts or omissions at work.'

2. Mr Ellis was sentenced to one year for manslaughter and six months

for the Section 7 HSWA charge to run concurrently.

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