MPs breathe life into corporate killing law

A renewed drive to establish the offence of corporate killing is to be
launched today by MPs from the three main political parties.

Andrew Dismore, Labour MP for Hendon, is proposing amendments to the
Criminal Justice Bill, designed to get the issue back on the political agenda.
He is being backed by unions, safety organisations and fellow MPs.

The Government has been promising to introduce the law since 1997, which
will make it possible to find corporate bodies guilty of manslaughter.

A regulatory impact assessment of the proposed law is being carried out, and
Lord Bassam of Brighton, speaking in the House of Lords, said the Government
intends to table legislation as soon as it is finished.

The changes are being backed by the TUC, Centre for Corporate Accountability
and pressure group Disaster Action, which are launching a report today on why
the new offence is necessary, to coincide with the meeting of ministers.

Owen Tudor, TUC senior policy officer, said: "We hope to create debate
in the House of Commons so the amount of support for it will be evident to the
Government."

A recent report by the HSE said a new offence of corporate killing would act
as a powerful deterrent to prevent needless injuries and deaths.

However, Diane Sinclair, CIPD lead adviser on public policy, has doubts over
the effectiveness of the proposed law, because companies should already be
abiding by health and safety regulations and protecting staff.

"Does highlighting bad practice improve others’ practice?" she
asked.

Sinclair added that the law already provides for unlimited fines where they
are warranted, as well as the imprisonment of directors and others found to be
individually liable.

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