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The Evening Standard, 'Swimmers celebrate High Court triumph' - Timothy Walker responds

The Evening Standard's leader on yesterday's judgment on swimming in Hampstead ponds (Splashback 26 April) is inaccurate. As the Judge made clear, the Health and Safety Executive played no part in the legal argument. Accordingly there was no ruling against HSE; and thus HSE has nothing against which to appeal. HSE welcomes the outcome, which is a victory for common sense and fully in line with our approach. Sensible health and safety is about managing risks, not eliminating them. We made it clear to both parties at the outset that there was therefore no need for HSE to become involved.

HSE is not in the business of stamping out simple pleasures such as swimming but we could not give a blanket guarantee that health and safety law would not apply. Rather than considering an appeal, as you reported elsewhere, we would recommend the same common sense approach to others. Too often it is easier to ban rather than to manage, which is a complete misrepresentation of the purpose of health and safety law.

Timothy Walker
Director General
Health and Safety Executive
Rose Court
2 Southwark Bridge
London SE1 9HS

Updated 2013-01-23