Merlin Fined 5 Million Pounds Over U.K. Roller Coaster Accident

  • Alton Towers owner has accepted responsibility for crash
  • CEO says company determined incident will never be repeated

The Smiler rollercoaster at Alton Towers in Alton, England, on June 2, 2015.

Photographer: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Merlin Entertainments Plc, the U.K.-based operator of tourist attractions including the London Eye and Madame Tussauds, was fined 5 million pounds ($6.5 million) by a U.K. court over a roller coaster crash that caused two people to lose limbs.

The penalty was handed down by Stafford Crown Court in central England, a company spokesman said Tuesday. Merlin said it was always aware it would face a “substantial” fine over the accident, for which it has accepted responsibility and apologized.

Five people were seriously injured in last June’s accident on the Smiler ride at the Alton Towers theme park in central England. A month later, Merlin warned of an adverse effect on profitability as it suspended U.K. theme park marketing and temporarily closed some rides.

“From the beginning, the company has accepted full responsibility for the terrible accident,” Merlin Chief Executive Officer Nick Varney said in a statement.

Merlin shares rose 0.3 percent to 464.5 pence at 1:51 p.m. in London. A report in the Times newspaper this week had suggested the fine would be closer to 10 million pounds.

Alton Towers owner gained in London trading after the fine announcement

Merlin is determined that such an incident will never be repeated, Varney said.

In a supplementary statement, the company rejected any suggestion that it would put remuneration or operational performance ahead of safety.

“The judge acknowledged that we have a good overall track record in safety and that co-operation with the Health and Safety Executive in its investigation has been exceptional,” Merlin said.

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