Press coverage:

BBC Coverage
Inside Housing Coverage Coverage
Morning Star Online Coverage

Still no answers. East End family sues 3 years after a crane collapsed onto their house and killed their Aunt.

A mother and son from Bow are suing the companies responsible 3 years after a collapsing crane destroyed their house, and killed their Aunt.

They blame Swan Commercial Services Limited, PGCS Partnership Limited (In liquidation) and Swan Housing Association Limited for the collapse of the crane.

On 8th July 2020, June Harvey, aged 85, was killed when a 26m crane crashed through the roof of the house she shared with her niece and great nephew, Jacqueline and Sam Atkinson. Jacqueline, 66, and Sam, 31, both suffered physical and psychiatric injuries, and their house was destroyed.

The companies involved did not ensure they were properly rehoused or treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that they both suffer.

Jacqueline and Sam had to live in a hotel provided by their landlord, Gateway Housing, until January 2021. They faced eviction when they refused to accept an uninhabitable property without a kitchen from Tower Hamlets Council. Support groups and friends in the community rallied around to make the house fit to move into.

The crane was not removed until December 2020. Three years on the family still has no answers. The Inquest has not taken place. The police, who still have primacy, have still not completed their investigations. No report has been disclosed by the Health and Safety Executive.

The lack of answers is causing the family additional trauma and impeding their recovery. Their case highlights David Cameron’s legacy of health and safety law deregulation and the devastating impact that this has had on their lives.

Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK) and the Construction Safety Campaign call for a speedy conclusion to these long outstanding investigations and justice for June and her family.

Sam Atkinson said:

“I feel very disappointed and let down by the authorities who are supposed to be there to protect us and it feels like they have completely disregarded us and our mental health. Not only is the lack of answers frustrating, but also the serious lack of communication between the police/HSE and ourselves. The wait for the conclusion to the investigation has been agonising and I really hope we know more about the cause of the accident which led to my aunt’s death very soon.”

Apsana Begum MP said:

“I am deeply concerned that three years on, the investigation into the Bow Crane collapse which killed my constituent June Harvey and led to other fatalities, is yet to be concluded. June’s family and more than 90 others, remain deeply impacted by this incident, with some still living in temporary accommodation. The ongoing impact on their health and wellbeing cannot be overstated.”

“I support the construction safety campaign, largely led by bereaved relatives and trade unions, continuing to call for answers and raising concerns about the under-regulation of health and safety in the construction industry. I will continue to call on the Government to ensure that legislation and guidance regulating cranes are robust and that regulators such as the Health and Safety Executive bodies are given the resources for rigorous enforcement and investigatory bodies such as the police are given the resources to conclude their investigations in a swift manner.”

Helen Clifford, the lawyer representing the family said:

“June’s family’s lives have been turned upside down. They still don’t know what went wrong or why. They have been failed by the Council, by the police and HSE. They demand that the police conclude their investigations as a matter of urgency so that they can finally have the answers they so desperately need.

The companies responsible for the collapse have sheltered behind these delays to avoid accepting responsibility for their negligence. To avoid making any payments to my clients or to fund any rehabilitation for them. It is simply unacceptable that three years on we are still in this position. We have issued proceedings in order to compel these companies to accept responsibility and to pay my clients the compensation they are entitled to.

June and her family should have been safe.

Previous prosecutions by the CPS and HSE have taken a very long time. It’s so callous that bereaved families not only suffer the unnecessary and negligent death of a loved one, but then have years of legal nightmares. Despite attempts by me and the family’s MPs this has been allowed to happen in the case of the Bow crane disaster.”

Hilda Palmer, facilitator of Families Against Corporate Killers said:

”Three years is far to long for a family to wait for compensation and justice after a foreseeable and preventable incident that should never have happened killed their much loved aunt and great aunt June Harvey.

They did nothing wrong but failures in the deployment of a crane by developers and constructers wrecked their lives and left them traumatised and homeless.

The failure of organisations to take responsibility, look after them and put the error right over 3 years is frankly unacceptable.

This atrocious incident is one of at least nine other crane collapses over 5 years that have killed 4 people. Those using the crane should have known about these and taken every effort to meet health and safety law and their legal duties.

The death of June Harvey and destruction of Sam and Jacqueline Atkinson’s home and lives has happened against a backdrop of deregulation by Tory Governments since 2010 which promised to destroy health and safety regulation, repealed some crane regulations, and slashed the budget of the Health and Safety Executive by 60% so that enforcement of the law, scrutiny and checking up on employers has been massively reduced.

As Sam, Jacqueline and June discovered there is in fact not too much but far too little health and safety regulation and enforcement and people are not safe even in their own homes.”

Pete Farrell, Joint Chair of the Construction safety Campaign said:

The CSC fought for 40 years for Safety. Particularly on Crane safety after the Battersea crane disaster when 2 people were killed by Falcon cranes we campaigned for legislation that cranes must be tested independently, basically an MOT, before they arrive on site.

In Liverpool 4 months later Falcon killed another worker, the HSE issued a Prohibition Notice and 180 of their cranes were taken out of service. They were fined £750,000 & £100,000 only. Then again in Crewe in 2017 Falcon cranes killed someone else. May 2000 Canary Wharf 3 men killed erecting a crane, the third incident in 6 weeks. Inquiry revealed safety plug missing, no anemometer for wind speed.

The CSC calls for “The Notification of Conventional Tower Crane Regulations 2010” to be reinstated and extended to include all types of cranes. All cranes should be subject to testing and inspection by specialist crane companies who are independent of the crane provider and operator companies. There should be a shelf-life limitation on each crane after which they must be scrapped.


The Atkinson family have been supported by local MPs Apsana Begum and Rushanara Ali. Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK), put Sam in touch with Helen Clifford a solicitor experienced in construction incidents and advocacy for families of those killed and she secured counselling for the Atkinsons.

The Construction Safety Campaign, CSC, has campaigned for better crane safety, for over 15 years with the Battersea Crane Disaster Action Group, BCDAG.

The UK has a poor record of tower crane accidents. Many other countries have stricter crane safety laws including compulsory licensing (certification) of all cranes.

Following a 2006 crane collapse on a building site in Battersea, which killed two people, the government enacted “The Notification of Conventional Tower Crane Regulations 2010“, enforcing the registration of cranes.

In an article in the Evening Standard in December 2012, then prime minister David Cameron declared his resolution "to kill off health and safety culture for good” and concluded that health & safety “is an albatross around the neck of British business”. A review of health and safety law in 2011 recommended scrapping a number of laws including “The Notification of Conventional Tower Crane Regulations 2010” in 2013.

The effects of this health and safety law deregulation and cuts in its enforcement are not just felt on construction sites but on safety standards more widely, including the deaths in the Grenfell fire in 2017.

Since 2000, there have been at least nine other crane collapses, all over the UK. The Bow collapse brings the total killed since 2017 to 7, with 4 people injured.


Helen Clifford Law
07796 107997 or 01483 399125,


Helen Clifford is a solicitor who is renowned for fighting the toughest opponents.