Scotland’s richest man ignored safety warnings about his farm shortly before a female employee had a horrific accident that left her looking like the victim of a shark attack, a court has heard.
Wanda Lustig said she had been “laughed at” when she warned about the unsafe working conditions on billionaire Maher Mahdi Al Tajir’s Blackford Farm in Perthshire.
The 34-year-old farm worker fell into an unguarded chain machine in a ramshackle grain byre and had a significant chunk of her lower leg ripped off before she could escape.
She managed to drag herself out of the building and make a call for help. She was found with injuries that a colleague said “looked like a shark bite”.
Sheriff Lindsay Foulis fined Blackford Farms £35,000 yesterday after it admitted being responsible for leaving Ms Lustig scarred for life.
The company admitted a series of health and safety breaches over a two-year period from October 2009 to 18 October 2011, when she was injured in a grain shed. The charge ran to three pages.
Sheriff Foulis said: “It’s pretty clear the circumstances in the grain shed were inherently dangerous. Persons had expressed concerns. The circumstances were ongoing for two years. It is a serious breach.”
Perth Sheriff Court was told that Al Tajir – who also owns Highland Spring – paid Ms Lustig off after the accident because she was no longer fit to work on the farm.
The company’s solicitor, Diane Turner, said Al Tajir and his fellow director Mohamed Sadiq Al Tajir, were paying an insurance group £1,000 per month to carry out risk assessments on the farm.
But the court was told that the only health and safety checks carried out were on the offices at the farm – while none at all were completed around the dangerous heavy machinery areas of the working farm.