A coroner’s inquest into the death of Radiohead drum technician Scott Johnson will begin on March 25 and run for approximately three weeks.
Mr. Johnson, 33, was killed in June, 2012, when the stage collapsed hours before the British band was due to perform at Toronto’s Downsview Park. The South Yorkshire, England, native was killed instantly. Three others were injured.
Last year, an Ontario justice stayed 10 charges under the provincial Occupational Health and Safety Act against the show’s promoter, Live Nation, engineer Domenic Cugliari and contractor Optex Staging, citing the Jordan ruling – a 2016 Supreme Court refinement of the right to a timely trial, effectively ending the Crown’s prosecution.
The lack of a result led Radiohead to release a statement that it was “appalled.” While performing in Toronto for the first time since the incident last July, the band’s singer, Thom Yorke, also voiced his displeasure with the outcome. “The people who should be held accountable are still not being held accountable in your city."
Ontario’s Chief Coroner announced the mandatory inquest last November, but did not provide further details.
A spokesperson for the Office of the Chief Coroner confirmed the March 25 start date. Coroner’s counsel Prabhu Rajan said over the phone that he expects all parties, including Radiohead, Optex and Live Nation, to apply for standing – the right to ask questions of witnesses and make submissions directly to the jury, with respect to the nature and scope of its recommendations. The coroner’s inquest’s recommendations, however, are non-binding.
Scott’s father, Ken Johnson, told The Globe and Mail he has already applied, but remains cautious about the effectiveness of the inquest. “It gives me no satisfaction that the inquest is taking place, but I do trust in the process. I do not expect to learn anything [at the inquest], as the facts were clear and proven in court,” says Mr. Johnson, who happens to be the health and safety secretary for Britain’s National Access and Scaffolding Confederation.
He added: “I hope that a ‘Johnson ruling’ could be established to allow a judge to have the final word on a Jordan ruling when he has heard all the evidence, that evidence is clear and he has warned the defence for time-wasting repeatedly. The Jordan ruling should have been used to sort all the parking and speeding offences to clear the courts, but to have a ruling that throws out cases that are proven is nuts.”
Last July, Radiohead’s drummer, Philip Selway, told The Globe, “It’s not about wanting to punish anybody, it’s about getting someone to take responsibility. To make sure that those lessons are learned so that it won’t happen again. If people aren’t being protected, there must be something wrong in the system.”