Dear Editor, I was astonished by the naivety of Chief Fire Officer Graeme Smith’s ill-tempered outburst against Warwickshire Police, after three members of Warwickshire Fire & Rescue Service were acquitted at their trials this week.
Like CFO Smith I am very pleased with the outcome.
But unlike him I am glad the matter went to trial, to be heard by a jury in open court, not swept quietly aside after some opaque process behind closed doors at Shire Hall, as he and Warwickshire County Council would apparently prefer.
Whenever a member of the emergency services dies on duty the circumstances must be thoroughly investigated, for the sake of their families and to ensure lessons are learned for other members of the service who may be placed in a similar position in the future.
This is even more important when so many men die making such a pointless sacrifice.
And if, after a prolonged and thorough investigation like that conducted by Warwickshire Police, the Crown Prosecution Service believes the evidence is sufficient to require fire service personnel to be charged and put on trial, that is what exactly should happen, no matter how difficult this may make life for the men concerned and for CFO Smith.
We were glad enough when managers at Railtrack and Network Rail faced prosecution for manslaughter after fatal accidents, and there are many similarities here. If they are innocent, as in this case, they will come through it, and if they are guilty they will be dealt with appropriately.
And I note the jury took no less than seven hours to reach their verdict on two of these defendants.