Director of rogue asbestos firm jailed

The director of a rogue asbestos removal firm has been jailed after putting his employees and customers at serious risk of exposure to cancer.

Daniel Luke Cockcroft, director of London-based Asbestos Boss, was sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment for failing to ensure the material was removed safely.

The firm, also known as Asbestos Team, advertised itself as a licensed asbestos removal company and removed licensable material from homes throughout the country.

But an investigation carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found Asbestos Boss had never held a licence and its poor working practices resulted in the largescale spread of asbestos and the exposure to homeowners and their families.

Few or no precautions were taken by the firm, putting its own workers and anyone at the premises where they were working at serious risk of exposure, the HSE said.

At Manchester Magistrates’ Court on 10 March, Cockcroft, of Darnes Avenue, Halifax, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, as well as a charge for breach of a prohibition notice.

He was immediately imprisoned for six months and ordered to pay victim compensation.

Asbestos Boss, of Old Gloucester Street, London, was found guilty of breaching regulations 8(1) and 11(1)(a) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

It was also found guilty of one charge relating to failure to comply with a prohibition notice at two separate addresses that prevented it from working with licensed asbestos materials.

In a separate prosecution by Stockport Council’s trading standards services, run jointly with HSE, Cockcroft and his company were also charged with fraud in relation to falsifying training certificates, a business insurance document and unauthorised use of trade association logos.

Cockcroft pleaded guilty to fraud and was sentenced to a further four months in prison. The company, which was also convicted, is awaiting sentence.

HSE inspector Matt Greenly said asbestos removal should only be carried out by trained personnel who understand the risks and how to control them.

“Asbestos is a killer – companies and their directors need to recognise the dangers of removing asbestos by themselves both to their employees and others,” he said.

By deliberately removing a highly dangerous material, resulting in a significant risk of exposure to cancer, Asbestos Boss had not only put its customers at risk but also its workers and their families.

“By undertaking asbestos removal work himself, Mr Cockcroft has also chanced his own life, and the life of his family by working unsafely with asbestos, despite knowing full well what the risks were,” Greenly said.

“This case should serve as a warning to any other companies who think they can make a quick profit by cutting corners and risking lives.”

Stockport Council’s cabinet member for communities and housing Helen Foster-Grime said the local authority’s trading standards team did its utmost to ensure offenders were brought to justice.

“I am delighted that these criminals have been held to account,” she said. “The message is very clear – we will not tolerate this in Stockport and will take robust action wherever possible.”

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