07:09PM, Friday 03 February 2017
Thames Water is facing the prospect of a ‘very substantial’ fine after a series of waste spills spewed millions of litres of sewage into rivers.
Addressing the firm at Aylesbury Crown Court today (Friday), his Honour Judge Francis Sheridan also warned shareholders that they should not attempt to pass the burden of paying it on to customers in the form of higher bills.
The water company had pleaded guilty to a total of 13 offences, including two at a sewage treatment works in Little Marlow dating from November 2012 to April 2013.
Judge Sheridan said: “The fine is going to be very substantial and the share holders have got to get the message.
“If Thames Water says we’re going to pass it on to the customers we’re punishing the people we’re trying to help.
“That is not the point – the point is the shareholders take the hit, not the customers.”
Prosecuting counsel Sailesh Mehta raised several failings by management, including missed chances to rectify problems and failure to pass information to senior managers, who in turn failed to act quickly enough.
He said: “They were out of control for a period of time when they should not have been, to the detriment of the environment and locals.”
Speaking on behalf of Thames Water, defence counsel Richard Matthews QC passed on the company’s apologies, adding it was working to ensure an incident of its type would not be repeated again.
The hearing, which started on Thursday (February 2), has been adjourned until Monday, February 13.
Sentencing is due to take place on Wednesday, February 22.
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