UK: Court Rejects Falmouth Harbour Dredging Appeal
Acting on behalf of the Marine Management Organization, Michelmores partner Andrew Oldland QC successfully responded to an appeal against a landmark conviction at the Court of Appeal.
The appeal by Mr. Peter Frampton was against his conviction for illegally dredging in Falmouth Harbour and deliberately attempting to conceal the activity which disturbed highly toxic substances posing a major threat to the local eco-system.
Mr Frampton and his company Oil & Water Ltd had been retained by A&P Group, the owners and statutory port authority for Falmouth Harbour, who were in the process of developing an £8.8m yacht marina in the inner harbour. A&P had pleaded guilty to similar offences and had financial orders totalling £630,000 imposed by Truro Crown Court in December 2011.
Dredging in Falmouth Harbour is again at the centre of new proposals by A&P and Falmouth Harbour Commissioners to dredge in order to create the depths required for a new cruise terminal. The fishing community and environmentalists are deeply concerned that this new project will cause irreparable damage to the marine eco-system.
Mr. Frampton’s appeal centred on the meaning of the word “deposit” in relation to the movement of substances underwater. He also appealed against his £25,000 fine, both of which were unsuccessful.
In the original ruling, His Honour Judge Clark QC said that:
“Mr. Frampton was fully aware of the contaminated silt which he was moving and that he turned a blind eye to what was going to happen.”
Judge Clark added that Mr Frampton:
“…would have got away with a public scandal had it not been for the astute vigilance of a marine enforcement officer….”
The case has clarified the meaning of the term ‘deposit’ in relation to dredging and depositing at sea. It reinforced that subcontractors cannot contract out of their regulatory responsibilities and that company directors can be personally criminally liable. Although Oil & Water subsequently entered administration this was no bar to commencing prosecutions against the directors themselves.
Press Release, December 13, 2012