Star Wars case sentencing adjourned

Sentencing has been adjourned until October in the case against Foodles Production (UK) Ltd, the Disney subsidiary which last month pleaded guilty to two of four criminal charges, following an incident in June 2014 in which actor Harrison Ford was struck by a heavy hydraulic metal door on the set of the Millennium Falcon at Pinewood Studios.

The company was due to be sentenced at Aylesbury Crown Court yesterday (22 August) but sentencing has now been adjourned until October.

The Court told SHP that sentencing had been delayed “due to parties not being ready”.

The company had previously admitted two of four criminal charges at Milton Keynes Magistrates’ Court, with the other two charges being withdrawn, after it accepted that it failed to protect actors and staff.

In a statement, Foodles said it had provided “full co-operation” through the HSE investigation, saying: “The safety of our cast and crew was always a top priority throughout the production”.

Prosecuting, Andrew Marshall told the court Ford had gone through the door on the set and hit a button before starting to walk back through it, believing the set was not live and that it would not close.

But it was remotely operated by another person, and as Ford passed underneath it, he was hit in the pelvic area and pinned to the ground.

An HSE spokesman who compared the power of the door’s drive system “to the weight of a small car”, said it was a “foreseeable incident”.

Nick Perkins from the Door & Hardware Federation (DHF), whose members manufacture, supply and maintain industrial and commercial doors, automated gates, garage doors and barriers, said: “This court case serves as a warning to everybody involved in the powered access sector that they must ensure that all adequate safety measures are provided wherever there is the risk of people being injured by a moving door, gate or barrier.

“Without these measures in place there is the real risk of accidents leading to death, serious injury and criminal prosecution of those responsible.

“In this case Harrison Ford was pinned down by the hydraulically operated door which reputedly could have killed him. Luckily he survived, albeit with serious injuries that included a broken leg. His death was only prevented because someone was thankfully able to activate an emergency stop – but not before injury had been caused.”

Adding: “As this court case shows, owners and all those responsible for powered access systems and equipment could face prosecution in the event of an incident at one of their sites. They should also be aware that installers and maintainers are also bound by criminal legislation to ensure that all work, whether on a new or an existing access system, is safe.”

Sentencing is now due in October.