Marks & Spencer has been hit with a million-pound fine after “turning a blind eye” to an asbestos leak at two of its stores.

The high street giant was handed the fine yesterday at Bournemouth Crown Court after what the judge called “lamentable” health and safety failings during refurbishment at stores in Reading and Bournemouth, putting customers at risk. It was fined £500,000 for each offence.

“M&S in effect turned a blind eye to what was happening,” said Judge Christopher Harvey Clark QC. “It was already costing the company too much.”

Responding to the ruling, M&S said: “We are very disappointed with the result of this case, as we believe we have always acted responsibly and with a safety-first attitude.

“We hope to continue to work closely with the Health & Safety Executive in the future to ensure that strict regulations and safety standards relating to asbestos are maintained.”

Read more
The Green Issue 2011: Who’s got the greenest store? (24 September 2011)
Bolland bids to make M&S more 'special' (12 September 2011)