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Decision to Charge

Once the Police have completed their investigations, they will refer the case to the Crown Prosecution Service for advice on how to proceed. We will then make a decision on whether a suspect should be charged, and what that charge should be.

Find out more about private prosecutions

CPS statement on Geoffrey Counsell


Barry Hughes, Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS South West, said: "In October 2012, CPS South West authorised Avon and Somerset Constabulary to charge Geoffrey Counsell with manslaughter in relation to a very serious incident on the M5 in November 2011.

"We keep all our cases under constant review and, in the most complex cases, also consult with CPS Headquarters.

"During this review process, in December we sought further advice from a leading expert on the law of negligence and additional information was also provided by expert witnesses and police investigators. Based on this additional information and advice, it has been decided that there is insufficient evidence to continue with a prosecution for manslaughter, which will be discontinued by tomorrow.

"Mr Counsell will shortly be charged with an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act. It is alleged that Mr Counsell failed to ensure that he operated the firework display that night so as to ensure, as far as was reasonably practicable, that others who might be affected were not exposed to risks to their health and safety. This offence carries a maximum sentence of two years' imprisonment.

"We will not be commenting further at this time as proceedings are continuing."