'Auf Wiedersehn' wife fights for justice for her husband

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The Independent Online
The wife of a British bricklayer who tumbled to his death from a luxury German apartment block will next week bring an historic criminal prosecution against his employers.

Denise Stacey, a mother of two young children, will fly to Germany to act as joint prosecutor with the Leipzig state prosecutor in bringing a case of negligent manslaughter against British and German construction bosses.

David Carter, a director of David Carter construction Management of Amersham, and two directors of ABN, a firm of German developers, are also charged with endangering the lives of their workers.

Mrs Stacey's husband, Len, died from horrific injuries after falling from the roof of the Leipzig flats, three years ago. There was no scaffolding or netting around the building to break his fall.

Despite intense pressure to let the matter rest, including threats made to her personal safety, Mrs Stacey has been determined to bring the matter before the courts. She said: "I have had to fight tooth and nail. They wanted to cover up my husband's death."

The hearing will be a landmark case in Germany and could open the way for a welter of litigation claims against Germany's booming construction industry.

She has the backing of IGBAU, the German construction union, which believes that many more foreign workers have been killed or injured because of lax safety standards. German law allows for victims or their families to act as co-prosecutors in criminal proceedings in exceptional cases.

It was at the height of the last recession that Mr Stacey joined the ranks of British building workers in Germany, adopting the lifestyle depicted in the television drama Auf Wiedersehn Pet.

He had been working in Germany for six months when he was knocked from the top of the unfinished building after a pile of concrete blocks fell around him.

At an inquest in Uxbridge, the coroner likened Mr Stacey's injuries to that of a plane crash victim. The coroner said that Mr Stacey would have survived if the building had had safety rails.

The case opens on Tuesday at the Eilenburg criminal court, near Leipzig. One of the witnesses will be Leonard Johnson, a Kent construction worker, who was opening a pallet of concrete blocks when it accidentally collapsed. Blocks fell onto Mr Stacey, who was kneeling down, and he was knocked over the side of the building.

The building firms have strenuously denied liability. In a statement to the German authorities, Mr Carter said that the workers were independent tradesmen and were responsible for their own safety.