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Film-makers fined $2 million over Harrison Ford Star Wars crush

LONDON (AFP) – 

A film production company was on Wednesday fined £1.6 million ($2 million, 1.75 million euros) over an accident on the set of the latest Star Wars movie in which the actor Harrison Ford broke his leg.

Prosecutors said Ford, then 71, was pinned to the ground by a metal hydraulic door after it broke during filming of the blockbuster film at Pinewood Studios west of London in June 2014.

It acted like a “blunt guillotine”, coming down “millimetres from his face” as the actor passed underneath, pinning him by the pelvis to the ground, prosecutor Andrew Marshall told the court, adding that the door was “capable of killing one or possibly two people”.

The Disney-owned Foodles Production (UK) was handed the penalty after it admitted two breaches of health and safety laws during filming of “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens” in which Ford reprised his role as Han Solo.

Ruling in the case, Judge Francis Sheridan said the production company had carried out a risk assessment on the door, but failed to tell Ford about the dangers.

“If you have a risk assessment and you do not communicate it, what is the point of having one?” the judge said.

“That is the most serious breach here.

“If only they had included Mr Ford in all the discussions, he might have at least been alert to the dangers that he had to avoid,” he said.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) public body responsible for workplace regulation said the rapidly-closing door hit Ford with a force comparable to a small car.

The door was designed to be remotely closed by a special effects operator, who shut it upon a signal from a spotter.

Ford needed surgery to screw together the fractured tibia and fibula bones in his left leg and plastic surgery on a “deep laceration” to his left hand.

Charles Gibson, who defended Foodles Production (UK), admitted there was a “failure in communication” between the production team and Ford.

“This was an innocent mistake by bona fide professionals,” he told the court in Aylesbury northwest of London.

“Lessons were learned. The good health and safety record of this production continued to the end.”

Judge Sheridan said the remote operation of the door by someone who could not see the actor going through it was a “crazy approach” to health and safety.

“Had the wrong button been pressed it would have continued to crush down on Mr Harrison Ford. It’s just incredible that so much was left to chance.”

© 2016 AFP