“Frustratingly insufficient”: Radiohead respond to drum tech Scott Johnson’s inquest verdict

The band have issued a statement

An inquest into the death of Radiohead‘s drum technician has returned a set of 28 recommendations to prevent the tragic incident from occurring again.

The band’s drum technician Scott Johnson died in June 2012 after a stage roof collapsed on him ahead of a concert at Toronto’s Downsview Park. The 33-year-old from Doncaster had also worked with Keane and many other touring artists. Three other people were also injured in the Downsview stage collapse.

In 2013, Ontario’s Ministry of Labour brought legal charges against Live Nation, scaffolding company Optex Staging and Services, and engineer Domenic Cugliari under the province’s Occupational Health and Safety Act. Live Nation denied any wrongdoing in the proceedings. In 2017, charges were ‘stayed’ as proceedings took too long to come to trial.

Now, the inquest into Johnson’s death has ended after three weeks, offering a list of new non-binding proposals that should be taken to prevent the incident from occurring again. As BBC News reports, one recommendation proposes the creation of a working group that is able to provide guidance on the best practices for the live performance industry.

Scott Johnson’s father Ken, who advises on scaffolding safety in the UK, was invited to take part in the group. Speaking outside court, Mr Johnson said he “would be disappointed” if nothing changed as a result of his son’s death.

Emergency personnel work near the scene of a collapsed stage at Downsview Park in Toronto on Saturday, June 16, 2012. The top of a stage being set up for a concert by the band Radiohead collapsed, killing one of the stage workers preparing for the event. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)

“For us, we sort of accept that life is different and we expect that emotional rollercoaster, we don’t see a way out for that,” he said. “I think it just brings some closure, at least. There’s hardly a month gone by in the last seven years where I’m not involved in some dialogue about Scott and what’s happened, so I quite look forward to perhaps not having that dialogue.”

Radiohead responded to the verdict today (April 11), saying that is it “frustratingly insufficient” given that the stage collapse “was shown to be preventable”.

In a statement released via Twitter, the band thanked the Coronoer’s Office and the jury for conducting the inquest in a “constructive, thorough, and fair-minded way” but lamented the verdict of Accidental Death. Read the full announcement below.

The band concluded the note by sending condolences to Johnson’s family.

Drummer Philip Selway previously spoke of the band’s  “anger and frustration” when the inquest to Johnson’s death opened.

“The system has failed Scott, his family and other industry workers,” said Selway at the beginning of the inquest.

Speaking of the day of the accident, Selway described how the band “heard a very loud sound of breaking glass, which reached a crescendo”, before discovering what had happened. “The collapse has made us vulnerable where we used to feel secure,” he continued.

He added that the band has since altered the way that their stages are designed to minimise risk, as well as hiring a tour engineer to ensure safety whenever third parties are involved.

Last year the band spoke out to call for action and justice over Johnson’s death.

Speaking onstage back in July at their first Toronto show since the incident, Thom Yorke said: “We wanted to do a show in Toronto, the stage collapsed, killing one of our colleagues and friends.”

“The people who should be held accountable are still not being held accountable in your city. The silence is fucking deafening.”