THE crown prosecution service has been told to pay £40,000 in costs for an “improper” prosecution of a farmer’s son for manslaughter.

James Binning, of Great Park Farm, Besselsleigh, was charged with the offence in April last year after the death of Sergeant Major Dean Henderson-Smith on October 18, 2012.

His father John Binning was fined £67,500 on Wednesday for breaching health and safety regulations over the incident, in which Mr Henderson-Smith fell through a barn skylight.

But the manslaughter charge was dropped against son James in November last year, and yesterday barristers for the family successfully argued it should have been stopped earlier.

Ben Compton, defending, said that the whole prosecution was based on the mistaken belief that Mr Henderson-Smith was employed by James Binning as well as his father.

Judge Patrick Eccles, sitting at Oxford Crown Court, agreed and said prosecuting him “on the basis that he was an employer” was improper. He awarded £40,000 of costs against the CPS on an interim basis and gave it seven days to come back and make further representations.

A damning report into Thames Valley’s Crown Prosecution Service by the CPS inspectorate earlier this year highlighted failings that include losing too many trials, bad decision-making and problems with domestic violence cases. The majority of its key performance standards during 2012-13 were worse than the national average.