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The Hampstead and Highgate Express: 'Swimmers celebrate High Court triumph' - Timothy Walker responds

The Editor
Hampstead & Highgate Express
100a Avenue Road

3 May 2005

Dear Sir/Madam

The Ham & High’s article on the judgment on swimming in Hampstead ponds (Swimmers celebrate High Court triumph 29 April) is inaccurate. Far from refusing to clarify the Corporation’s responsibilities, our advice to both parties, dating back to late 2003, went into some detail and was referred to at length by the judge. However, as we also made clear, we could not give a blanket guarantee that health and safety law would not apply; we could not provide an indemnity against a future prosecution because, as the judge pointed out, the facts of any accident cannot be anticipated.

HSE welcomes the outcome, which is a victory for common sense and fully in line with our approach. We are not in the business of stamping out simple pleasures such as swimming. Sensible health and safety is about managing risks, not eliminating them. Too often it is easier to ban rather than to manage, which is a complete misrepresentation of the purpose of health and safety law.

Yours faithfully

signature of Timothy Walker

Timothy Walker
Director General
Health and Safety Executive

Updated 2013-01-23