Socialist Worker

Crash death in Exeter

Issue No. 2062

A strike-breaking post office manager driving a Royal Mail articulated lorry was involved in a fatal accident in Exeter on Thursday of last week.

The collision killed Harry Brown, a 56 year old father of five, who was driving an Astra van, and injured his passenger.

Police arrested the driver of the lorry, Phil Edmonds, a 46 year old man from Newton Abbot, on suspicion of causing death by careless driving. Investigations are ongoing. Royal Mail has confirmed that Mr Edmonds is not employed as a lorry driver.

Devon and Cornwall police told Socialist Worker that driving conditions at that time were not unduly hazardous.

A CWU union rep at the Exeter mail centre told Socialist Worker that there has been a spate of accidents involving managers and Royal Mail vehicles on strike days.

He said, “Several vehicles being driven by managers at Exeter last week had their wing mirrors broken and one van was backed into a building in Plymouth.”

Union activists say that managers rarely have enough recent experience to drive large vehicles safely. One Gloucestershire worker described a large Royal Mail van being driven so dangerously by a strike-breaker that it collided with a wall at a delivery office.

A striker from Leicester revealed that last week a manager who was delivering mail had dropped the tailgate on his vehicle, causing cages of mail to tumble out.

“If a worker had been standing behind the vehicle, they could have been badly injured,” he said.

Update 17 April 2008: Inquest report

An inquest has recorded a verdict of accidental death after an Exeter man was killed in a crash in July last year.

56 year old Henry Brown died in the accident on 26 July.

The driver of the Royal Mail lorry, Phillip Edmonds, an audit and compliance manager with Royal Mail, was a temporary driver during the postal strikes. The inquest found that Mr Edmonds was said to be a competent driver with class 1 licence and had also completed a familiarisation course.

Mr Edmonds said he was devastated by what had happened and continues to relive the accident. 'I am just so sorry for Mr Brown's family and the past couple of months have been very hard for my family and me also.' he said.

Exeter and Greater Devon coroners recorded a verdict of accidental death due to multiple injuries.

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