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4 June 2014, 12:41
The family estate of a Tory peer in Hampshire has been charged with an offence under health and safety regulations in connection with the deaths of two farm workers.
Scott Cain, 23, and Ashley Clarke, 24, were found unconscious in the apple store at Lord Selborne's Blackmoor Estate, near Liss, on February 18, 2013.
As well as the charge facing the estate, Andrew Stocker, former manager of the fruit packing and storage operation has been charged with two counts of gross negligence manslaughter.
Piers Arnold, specialist lawyer for the CPS Special Crime Division, said:
"I have carefully reviewed all the evidence gathered during the joint investigation by Hampshire Police and the Health and Safety Executive into the tragic deaths of Scott Cain, 23, and Ashley Clarke, 24, who died working on a farm in Hampshire on February 18, 2013.
"The two men, who worked for Blackmoor Estate Limited, died while retrieving apples from a long-term storage container in which fruit is kept at very low oxygen levels.
"I have concluded there is sufficient evidence to charge Andrew Stocker, former manager of the fruit packing and storage operation at Blackmoor Estate Limited, with two counts of gross negligence manslaughter.
"I have also concluded there is sufficient evidence to charge the company, Blackmoor Estate Limited, with an offence under section two of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
"These decisions were taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors.
"I extend my sympathies to the families of Mr Cain and Mr Clarke.
"Andrew Stocker and Blackmoor Estate Limited will appear before Aldershot Magistrates' Court on June 26, 2014.
"May I remind all concerned that criminal proceedings against Andrew Stocker and Blackmoor Estate Limited will now be commenced.
"It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.''
Inquests into the deaths are due to be opened by the North Hampshire Coroner Andrew Bradley.
John Palmer, the fourth Earl of Selborne, was one of the hereditary peers who remained in the House of Lords following the reforms of 1999.