Move to prosecute over the Hatfield rail crash welcomed

rail firms and six senior managers charged with manslaughter

and safety campaigners have welcomed the decision by the Crown Prosecution
Service (CPS) to charge railway contractor Balfour Beatty, Network Rail
(formerly Railtrack) and six senior managers with manslaughter in the wake of
the Hatfield rail crash.

the landmark move has come amid renewed fears that the Government’s
long-awaited legislation on corporate man-slaughter may be delayed again.

senior managers from the two firms and a further six men, including former boss
Gerald Corbett, appeared in court in July.

Bergman, director of the Centre for Corporate Accountability, said the CPS
decision was “very significant”.

added: “There have only ever been five companies convicted of manslaughter –
all of which were small companies.

is because the law requires that a company director or senior manager is
prosecuted as an individual for the offence, before the company – a separate
legal entity – can be prosecuted.”

have only ever been two large companies that have been prosecuted for
manslaughter: P&O European Ferries after the Zeebrugge disaster and Great
Western Railways over the Southall rail crash. Both prosecutions failed.

difficulty is the necessity to have sufficient evidence to prosecute a company
director or senior manager before the company itself can be prosecuted, Bergman

Brumwell, general secretary of construction workers’ union UCATT, said: “It is
excellent that the principle of charging both companies and individual managers
has been established.”

there has been dismay over an admission by the Government that a consultation
process will accompany the publication of its corporate man-slaughter
legislation in the autumn and, as a result, it is feared this may lead to
further delays.

legislation was a 1997 manifesto commitment and health and safety campaigners
have long awaited its introduction.

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