Case dropped against businessman over storage of body parts

Healthcare Environmental Services (HES) director Garry Pettigrew had been accused of illegally storing medical waste.

Case dropped against businessman over storage of body parts STV News

The prosecution of a businessman accused of illegally storing medical waste including human body parts has been dropped.

Garry Pettigrew, 56, was said to have allowed waste to pile-up at his Healthcare Environmental Services (HES) plants in Shotts, Lanarkshire, and Dundee.

It was alleged he wrongly kept more than 187 tons of hazardous waste at his firm’s depot.

Pettigrew, of Shotts, had been on trial at Hamilton Sheriff Court since last November.

He denied breaching environmental laws including illegal storage of human body parts and other medical waste between May 2017 and April 2019.

The prosecution case against him had closed and Pettigrew had given evidence on his own behalf.

But last month it emerged new evidence had come to light and was being assessed by lawyers.

The case was due to be called again in court on Thursday for a procedural hearing but was treated as “not called”.

Prosecutors have since confirmed a review of evidence has led them to rule no further criminal proceedings should take place at this time.

The trial previously heard the cost of clearing the HES site in Shotts rose to almost £660,000 and took nearly all of 2020 to clear the plant which was “wall-to-wall” with 391 tonnes of medical waste.

Peter Wightwick, a contractor, said his team had to burst open pallets of medical waste and found containers of human body parts mixed with other rubbish.

Photographs shown to the court included one of a penguin carcass which was said to have come from Edinburgh Zoo.

HES went into liquidation in April 2019 after losing NHS contracts in England and Scotland.

Pettigrew had earlier told the trial how he received death threats after he made 400 staff redundant days after Christmas in 2018.

HES lost access to its banking facility which led to staff being put on “gardening leave” before being let go.

Pettigrew claimed he had been told by the UK government HES was in the top 40 companies which were “crucial” to the infrastructure of the UK.

But due to a build-up of medical waste a contingency plan was launched which would see waste sent to seven unlicensed sites in a bid to clear the backlog.

He said then health secretary Matt Hancock MP chaired a COBRA meeting to “instigate” the plan in September 2018 which Pettigrew claimed would be ”illegal”.

Pettigrew described breaking the news to staff about non-payment of wages as the “hardest day” of his life.

A Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) spokesperson said: “It is the duty of the Crown to keep cases under review, and following full and careful consideration of the facts and circumstances of the case, including the available admissible evidence, the procurator fiscal decided that there should be no further criminal proceedings at this time.

“The Crown reserves the right to proceed in the future should further evidence become available.”

SEPA was approached for comment.

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