M&S fined £1 million

Retail giant Marks & Spencer was fined £1 million yesterday for failing to protect customers, staff and workers from potential exposure to asbestos during refurbishment at one of its stores. The management was found to have been more concerned about the works being “unsightly” and “interfering with the shopping experience” of customers than the cancer-causing material.

It was told by Judge Christopher Harvey Clark QC that the company, which he described as a “household name” was more interested in making profits out of its Reading store than properly planning for the removal of asbestos. He said the “tension” between health and safety and profit had caused the “lamentable problems” at Reading which had led to ceiling possibly containing asbestos falling to the shop floor when it was open.

“The response from Marks & Spencer was, in effect, to turn a blind eye to what was happening … It was already costing the company too much money,” the judge told Bournemouth Crown Court. “There was systemic failure on behalf of M&S management.  There has been no hint of a proper full apology for what happened.” The judge said that the plc has failed to take responsibility for the breaches. Read More.