Seema Malhotra MP, the Shadow Minister for Employment, has condemned the decision to delay prosecution against a recycling firm for the deaths of five African men.

The men were clearing scrap metal when they died at Shredmet, in Birmingham.

Relatives said the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) put back its decision despite promises, leaving them feeling like their lives did not matter.

The HSE said the inquiry took “longer than we had hoped” but shadow minister Seema Malhotra criticised the delay.

The HSE blamed changes to its legal team and disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic for adding to delays.

The families said they were assured by the HSE the decision on whether the firm would be prosecuted would be made by the fourth anniversary of their deaths.

Almamo Jammeh, Ousmane Diaby, Bangally Dukureh, Saibo Sillah and Mahamadou Jagana died when a concrete wall fell on them at the recycling plant in Nechells, Birmingham on 7 July 2016.

Daniel Lemberger Cooper, who represents the widows and one survivor, told BBC News the families wanted justice.

In a joint statement, the families said: “This news has caused us grief and anguish. We have met with delay at every stage of the process. We demand justice and accountability.

“We are five black families, from Gambia and Senegal; it is as if our lives do not matter. Our lives do matter.”

The news comes as the Government confirms in response to Parliamentary Questions that the HSE budget was cut by almost 30% from 2010 to 2020.

Seema Malhotra MP has written to the HSE to ask for an explanation for the delay said:

“News that the HSE have yet again delayed their investigation is shocking. It is unacceptable that four years on, the families still don’t have an answer and are left in limbo. During the inquest, we know that even then the jury heard from HSE investigator Paul Cooper that “common sense” was enough to suggest the wall was at risk of collapsing and the site could have “most definitely” identified it. These were hardworking men helping build a life for their families and young children. Their lives matter, and their families deserve answers and for the people responsible to be held accountable.”

Read more on the BBC here.

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