TWO Sussex firms have been attacked in the House of Commons over the death of a 24-year-old student who was almost decapitated in an horrific accident at Shoreham Harbour.

MP George Galloway told MPs and ministers that the general manager of Euromin, James Martell, "has the blood of Simon Jones on his hands".

Mr Jones was taking a year off from Sussex University when he signed up with Personnel Selection, an employment agency which sent him to work at the harbour last April.

After a two-minute briefing, he was put into the hold of a ship and began loading bags of stones to a crane's grab which lifted them from the vessel.

Mr Galloway said: "This two minutes was meant to equip Simon with the skills of a stevedore, one of Britain's most dangerous occupations.

"Working with Simon and his workmate, Sean Currey, was just one crew member, a Pole who spoke no English yet was acting as a 'banksman' guiding the crane driver.

"The banksman is supposed to communicate with the driver and monitor what's going on in the hold.

"Not only did this banksman not speak English but even his hand signals were foreign so far as the crane driver was concerned. Moreover, from where he was standing he could not even see into the hold."

Somehow the grab came in too close and Simon's head was caught between its jaws and crushed, almost decapitating him.

Mr Galloway said: "Sean Currey, who had nightmares for months afterwards, was asked later to clean the blood and remains of Simon off the bags of stones so that they could be sold.

"He was sent home for the day without pay for refusing to do so."

Nobody was been brought to book for the the death, although a campaign group has been set up to bring the culprits to justice. It also wants a review of Britain's labour laws.

Mr Galloway attacked the Tories' programme of deregulating docks which meant they had become so dangerous they were reminiscent of a scene from the film On the Waterfront.

He added: "Martell's contempt for the laws of health and safety in this country, his greed and hunger for profit, his negligence and carelessness, slaughtered this young man just as clearly as if he had pushed him off the dock with his own hands.

"Martell, who hasn't so much as sent two lines of condolences to his victim's family, has the blood of Simon Jones on his hands."

Mr Martell was later said to have "laughed out loud" when told he could face prosecution. Although arrested, he was later released without charge.

The MP also attacked Personnel Selection, which is based in West Street, Brighton. He said: "The company undoubtedly failed in its statutory duty to ensure their client's suitability for the job to which they were sending him and to provide the written terms and conditions of the job.

"They sent him to the docks and into the hands of a cowboy company called Euromin of ultimately Dutch ownership and with a low reputation even in the jungle that is the deregulated dock industry."

Mr Galloway, who represents the constituency of Glasgow Kelvin, is calling for a review of health and safety laws and tougher penalties for "killer companies".

Emma Aynsley, 25, who was Simon's girlfriend and helped set up The Simon Jones Memorial Campaign, was among 30 people who held a sit-in after the speech at the Department of Trade and Industry's HQ in Whitehall.

No arrests were made during the hour-long protest, which was to highlight the campaign

She said: "The speech was wonderful and we are very appreciative of George Galloway."

The Crown Prosecution Service decided last month it did not have enough evidence to prosecute Euromin or Mr Martell for manslaughter.

It has now agreed to look into the matter again and a decision is expected in the near future.

Euromin and Personnel Selection refused to comment.

Mr Galloway said: "There was no need for a grab for that kind of cargo and the chains should have been attached to a hook instead. But changing back and forth between hook and grab costs time and money."

He added: "In a way, Martell was right to laugh, because the chances of him ever being properly held to account were and are laughably small.

"Life is cheap on the British waterfront and in many of the privatised and deregulated sweat-shops of which the previous government boasted, is the true legacy of the Thatcher era.

"The average fine levied upon employers following fatal industrial accidents is less than £2,000.

"Unbelievably, it is cheaper to be fined for having caused the death of an employee than to take the necessary precautions for the avoidance of that death.

"Most deaths through industrial negligence go virtually unreported, yet involvement with the Simon Jones campaign has shown me that such incidents not only destroy the lives of the victim, but tear apart the lives of their families and friends."

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