Bert’s Bar former owners fined £100k over fatal fall

Bert's Bar on William Street. File picture: Malcolm McCurrach
Bert's Bar on William Street. File picture: Malcolm McCurrach
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A LICENSED trade company has been fined £100,000 after a man died when he fell into a basement at one of their pubs because a gate leading to it was not locked.

Maclay Inns of George Square, Glasgow, pled guilty Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday under the Health and Safety at Work Act of failing to ensure staff were aware of the importance of padlocking or securing the gate in the railings at Bert’s Bar in William Street, Edinburgh. The bar is now under new ownership.

Alan Brown, 46, a firefighter with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, died in the early hours of 4 April, 2014.

Sheriff Kenneth Maciver QC described the situation as “an accident waiting to happen”.

Fiscal depute Gary Aitken told Sheriff Maciver that Mr Brown, who was married with two children, had been out socialising with friends and was making his way home around 1:35am when he fell into the pub’s basement.

An investigation revealed the need to secure the gate had been “forgotten about” and that from April 2012 it was routine not to lock it.

Advocate Barry Smith, appearing for the family, said the company wished to record its sincere condolences to the family.

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Mr Smith said: “The simple measure to merely padlock the gate had been done between 2009 and 2012. But with the utmost regret the practice of locking the gate had been allowed to fall into disuse. That had not been deliberate or calculated.”

Mr Smith said the company had no previous convictions, but had gone into administration on 23 January last year, with administrators estimating approximately £700,000 could be available for creditors.

However, Sheriff Maciver said he would not take into account the financial position of the company by imposing a nominal sum.

Sheriff Maciver said: “It is a case where there had been, over a number of years, a serious and obviously dangerous omission where the practice of padlocking the gate had been ignored by laziness and inattention. It was an accident waiting to happen”.

Members of Mr Brown’s family who attended the hearing made no comment after the case.