A Granada TV location manager who broke a knee cap and elbow while working on the set of David Jason's directing debut programme "The Quest" has secured compensation, with the support of his union BECTU and its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors.

The accident took place in October 2001, when Chris Hordley, from Leeds, was employed as a freelance location manager on the programme. Directed by David Jason, the story was based on an event during Mr Jason's early life. The programme involved location shoots in the Lake District and in Blackpool with the production base being located at the side of Lake Buttermere where Granada had created a 1950s style caravan park, an integral aspect of the storyline.

On arriving at the base camp on 1st October, it was clear to all parties that there had been widespread destruction to the set caused by high winds; the area was so dangerous that only key staff were allowed to enter the location. A crisis meeting was held between the four most senior people there, including Mr Jason. This was the last day of the shoot in this location before moving to Blackpool, and the management thought it vital to complete the shoot.

High winds blew workers over

Against advice that it was too dangerous to film, a decision was taken to proceed even though the wind was causing "mini tidal waves" on the lake and winds would suddenly hit people without warning and with force. To aid the storyline it had been intended to film at a location known as Newlands Hawse. However due to the bad weather, it was not deemed safe. Mr Hordley and a colleague, Mr Miller, were dispatched to the Honister Valley area to see if this area would look similar to enable it to be used instead of Newlands. Mr Hordley and many others expressed their concerns to senior members of Granada staff, however the production management chose to disregard the obvious risks and sent four members of the crew, including Mr Hordley to the higher and more exposed Honister Pass. 

The group made the journey and it was clear even whilst driving that the conditions were not safe. Nevertheless they were still required to exit their vehicle and quickly confirmed their view that it was unsafe. However, on returning to the vehicle, a gust of wind caught them causing them all to fall over. Being closer to the roadside, Mr Hordley was blown from the road and landed in a rocky beck, causing significant injuries including a broken knee cap and elbow.

Chris Hordley comments: "I am very pleased with the outcome and the support I've received from BECTU and Thompsons. However I have had other health problems after the accident and no amount of money can compensate for the stress and pain that I have endured."

Working conditions were unsafe

Gerry Morrissey, Bectu Assistant General Secretary comments: "BECTU, with the help of Thompsons Solicitors, has illustrated to members the need for individuals to take health and safety issues seriously and for our members to stand up to companies that put their lives in danger. The situation could have been worse, and this compensation goes some way to alleviating the stress and anxiety caused by Granada's conduct on this particular production."

Judith Gledhill from Thompsons Solicitors in Leeds comments: "We've recently had other claims against Granada. In this case, it was clear to Granada that working conditions were unsafe. Notwithstanding concerns that were raised about the weather conditions, they elected to continue filming. As a result Mr Hordley suffered serious injury. Hopefully this case will serve as a reminder to similar companies that they cannot put the health and safety of their employees in jeopardy even if expensive work has to be abandoned. Granada fought this case all along and made no offers before the trial. They put Mr Hordley through the ordeal of reliving the accident in a lengthy court battle. Fortunately Mr Hordley had the support of a number of colleagues for which he remains very grateful."