Artist News Business News Gigs & Festivals Live Business

Radiohead use Toronto show to criticise outcome of Canadian stage collapse trial

By | Published on Monday 23 July 2018


Radiohead paid tribute to their late drum tech Scott Johnson during a show in Toronto last week, while hitting out at the failure of the Canadian criminal justice system to hold anyone to account for his death in 2012.

During a second encore at their show in the Canadian city, frontman Thom Yorke told his audience: “Six years ago, we wanted to do a show in Toronto. The stage collapsed, killing our colleague and friend. The people who should be held accountable are still not being held accountable in your city. The silence is fucking deafening”.

Johnson was killed and three others injured ahead of a planned Radiohead show in Toronto in 2012, after a scaffolding structure collapsed onto the open-air stage on which the band were due to perform. The show was promoted by Live Nation, and the live music giant was subsequently charged under Ontario’s Occupational Health And Safety Act, alongside provider Optex Staging & Services Inc and an individual engineer working on the show, Domenic Cugliari.

The criminal case reached court in 2015, but quickly started to drag. Then last year the judge overseeing the trial was promoted and no longer had jurisdiction. As a result a mistrial was declared and the whole case was set to begin anew. However, the defendants then argued that the entire case should instead be abandoned, citing a relatively new precedent in Canadian law designed to stop criminal cases from dragging on indefinitely.

The new judge considering the proceedings agreed that, under the new precedent, the charges against Live Nation, Optex and Cugliari should indeed be ‘permanently stayed’.

When that happened last September, Radiohead said in a statement: “We are appalled by the decision to stay the charges against Live Nation, Optex Staging and Domenic Cugliari. This is an insult to the memory of Scott Johnson, his parents and our crew. It offers no consolation, closure or assurance that this kind of accident will not happen again”.