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January 7, 2011

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BBC TV show helps jail rogue gas worker

An unregistered gas fitter has been jailed after being caught carrying out illegal gas work by the BBC Watchdog team.

Andrew John Carslake, 42, who traded as Aqua Plumbing, was filmed carrying out repairs to a boiler at a residential property in South Woodham Ferrers, near Chelmsford in July 2009. Carslake had previously been issued a Prohibition Notice in March 2008, ordering him to stop undertaking gas repairs until he was legally registered to carry out such work.

Producers of the BBC’s Watchdog programme, Rogue Traders, worked with the Gas Safe Register to film an episode featuring a number of gas fitters whom the registration body believed were carrying out illegal repairs. The Gas Safe Register informed the producers of the show that it believed Carslake was still carrying out gas work without being registered.

Having been tipped off by the Gas Safe Register that Carslake was under suspicion, a member of the show posed as a customer and asked him to visit a property to make repairs to a boiler. As planned, Carslake arrived at the property to carry out the work, but as soon as he removed the sealed front cover of the boiler the TV crew emerged and revealed that he was being filmed as part of an undercover operation. The Gas Safe Register then informed the HSE that Carslake was in breach of his Prohibition Notice.

Commenting on the role played by the BBC, HSE inspector Toni Drury said: “There’s no doubt that Watchdog’s Rogue Traders has struck a blow for gas safety with their undercover report. They played a big part in helping us get this case to court and securing justice. We applaud their efforts to expose illegal gas work and help the public understand the importance of getting qualified, registered professionals in to do gas work.”

Carslake appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court on 6 January and pleaded guilty to breaching reg. 3(3) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, for undertaking gas work without a licence, and s33 (1)(g) of the HSWA 1974, for breaching a Prohibition Notice.

In mitigation, he said he regretted his actions and had made attempts to become qualified since receiving the enforcement notice.

However, in delivering his sentence, Judge David Turner was damning in his verdict, saying: “Carslake had conned the public and deliberately put profit before public safety.” The judge handed him a six-month prison sentence for each offence, which will be served concurrently.

Summing up the case, Inspector Drury said: “When unregistered workers try to bypass the law in this way they are not only putting themselves at risk of prosecution and a large fine, they are also putting their customers’ lives at risk.
“HSE served Mr Carslake with a Prohibition Notice to protect the public’s safety but he chose to ignore it. Failure to comply with a Prohibition Notice is a serious offence, which HSE will pursue through the courts.”

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13 years ago

Good to see Gas Safe being innovative and proactive in catching out illegal gas workers. Love the picture!