• The British Driving Society (BDS) has been ordered to pay a total of £230,000 over the death of a young driver at an event 12 years ago.

    The society was sentenced at Swansea Crown Court on 14 June, over its involvement in a “fun drive event” at Afan Argoed Country Park, on 27 May 2012 at which 18-year-old Angharad Rees suffered fatal injuries.

    The BDS had pleaded guilty to charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

    A spokesperson for the society said: “BDS were sentenced in accordance with the sentencing guidelines and received a fine in the sum of £90,000. This figure is based on the actual harm created, which in this case involved the tragic death of Miss Rees.

    “Following the advice of our legal team, we entered guilty pleas on the basis that our responsibility was by omission rather than commission.”

    The BDS said the arrangements for the day were made by a local club, and “arose as we had agreed though the officers of our Welsh branch to let the event be run under our auspices”.

    “We accepted that we did not take any appropriate steps to check what arrangements were in place or whether they were adequate,” the spokesperson said.

    “Our investigation revealed that our Welsh office branch had not followed our procedures in terms of accepting that this event could be run under our auspices. As a result, we have updated our handbook.”

    The handbook now features rules including that area commissioners must apply to the BDS for every event they wish to hold, that no event can run under the BDS organisers’ policy without an application being confirmed by the BDS office.

    “We believe the matters that arose in respect of this event were anomalies to the way that we operate and how BDS events are organised,” the spokesperson said. “As our members know, competitors’ and members of the public’s safety is paramount and we must always ensure that rules and legal obligations are adhered to.”

    A Neath Port Talbot Council spokesperson said: “We note the outcome of the sentencing of the event organisers, the British Driving Society, and our thoughts continue to be with Angharad’s family. The prosecution brought by the council’s environmental health team identified a series of failings in the organisation and safety management of the event leading to the fatal accident. We will continue to raise awareness of this case within Wales, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and carriage driving professions, so important learning can be adopted into practices at any similar events.”

    The BDS was also ordered to pay £140,000 costs.

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