Without wishing to defend Vosa's competence or incompetence, I would just like to explain how I read the Vosa man's much-quoted statement:
The Code defines a safety defect as a ***8216;feature of design or construction liable to cause a significant risk of personal injury or death'.
To me, the statement does not imply that a bonnet flying up is not a safety issue.
Instead it makes the point that Vosa considers a safety defect as one which is caused by 'a feature of design or construction'. (Bald tyres and worn brakes are life-threatening issues but presumably would not come under Vosa's definition of a 'safety defect' because they are not a 'feature of design or construction'.)
In Vosa's eyes - as it has implied - a safety catch which has seized open belongs to the category of problems that may be dangerous but are not caused by bad design or construction.
This ultimately is the issue. The interpretation of the CoP is the core element up for debate.
I have been in contact with a number of representatives in the industry who have also stated other "defects" that seem to fall outside of the safety CoP / recall process. i.e. the system is failing us.
You are correct taking this intrepration - as this is how RUk and VOSA have positioned their rationale (and inactions). However, there is ONE important consideration which infers that this is a safety defect!
If the bonnet catch mechanism was deemed to require "maintenance" in the first place (by the nature of the design / manufacturing process), then I agree that this would not necessarily have been such an issue - although it would raise the question why after maintenance the mechanism still failed.
HOWEVER, the case of Renault Clio Mark-2 - the mechanism was designed and manufactured as "MAINTENANCE-FREE" - so the question of maintenance is a diversion and should not be taking in the wrong context.
The design specification has changed (only after Media / Public pressure) to one that requires this mechanism to require maintenance. Something that changes fundamentally like this signifies and infers a defect has been found.
Another bigger problem is that even with maintenance, the root-cause is not fully being resolved. Incidents will continue, because the way the mechanism is designed means that the safety catch can remain disengaged (even though the main catch is engaged). This is a fault, as the purpose of the safety catch is that it should prevent the bonnet releasing all the way - it should also be detectable that a safety catch has not been engaged when the bonnet is flush. In most vehicles, you can tell because the bonnet is still ajar, and remains on safety only. In the case of the Clios, there is a chance that you engage the main catch, but the safety is not engaged. This is a fault! If the catch safety mechanism cannot function in 100% cases, then it should NOT be deemed (labelled) as a safety catch/mechanism, it is just a secondary catch (which means it could also be disengaged). Thus, the functionality of the safety catch is debatable! If this cannot function in 100% cases then they need a further catch (3rd catch) to perform the safety function. Can you see the point I am making, the functionality of the mechanism is at fault! (Nothing to do with maintenance)!!
Can you imagine this in the context of your airbag, you think it works, but in an emergency case (you hit something), there is a chance it doesn't inflate...then this is a fault, no matter if it is maintained during servicing!
Personally, maintenance should not really be used as a reason whether something is a safety defect or not...something which fails in such a scale as this, should be deemed as a safety risk!
Take the airspace example - jsut because of a theortical risk (no firm documented evidence), they shut down the skies and Number 10 told us customer safety was of paramount importance over and above the knock-on disruption. Ergh...they should take the same stance with these types of road-safety risks...the risk to the occupants and other road users is too great.
It is a defect - period.
Sorry to be firm, I do value everyone's opinion, but until you experience an incident, you will not fully understand how we all feel about this!