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Ipswich Burger King company could have to make whopper payout over worker's injury

PUBLISHED: 14:00 07 October 2016

Burger King in Westgate Street, Ipswich

Burger King in Westgate Street, Ipswich

Archant

A company which owns an Ipswich Burger King could face a six-figure payout after a worker was injured by hot oil.

KFG Quickserve which runs the fast food restaurant in Westgate Street pleaded guilty at the town’s magistrates’ court to two health and safety offences relating to breaching a duty to employee Michael Firth.

The first relates to an offence on, or after, March 12 last year and carries an unlimited fine. The second relates to before March 12 last year for which the maximum fine is £20,000.

A further hearing was set to argue over certain points at issue between the prosecutor on behalf of Ipswich Borough Council and the KFG Quickserve’s defence team.

Pascal Bates, prosecuting, said it was the council’s contention the case involved a high culpability by KFG Quickserve based in north-west London, and a risk of serious harm which was towards the top end of the scale.

If the court accepted this was the case the starting point for a fine would be £950,000.

However, the defence contend the company’s culpability was in the medium range and the risk of harm was in the lowest category.

If the court accepted its argument the starting point for a fine would be £50,000.

It is understood Mr Firth was injured when clearing out hot oil from equipment at the restaurant in March last year.

Hot oil was accidentally poured on to his ankles leaving some scarring.

Although KFG Quickserve admitted the offences Mr Bates said there are also other aspects of the company’s mitigation which took issue with the prosecution’s case.

One is the prosecution’s evidence involving Mr Firth’s assertion that he was invited to copy out the answers to questions during training by his manager, which the manager does not accept happened.

The prosecution has also asked the court to look beyond the one defending company and consider it in the context of the wider group of companies it belonged to in the UK, and also its parent company based in Kuwait.

The defence regards this as unfair.

District Judge Celia Dawson ruled the case could still be heard before her in a magistrates’ court, rather than grant the prosecution’s request to send it to Ipswich Crown Court.

Judge Dawson said: “This is not a case that involves death or a significant life-changing injury, serious though the injury was.

“Financially I’m in a position to impose a suitable punishment.

“I’m therefore content the case should remain in the magistrates’ court and dealt with summarily”

The next hearing was scheduled to for December 2.

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