Union ‘sickened’ at Hatfield guilty admission

20 July 2005

ASLEF General Secretary Keith Norman said he was ‘sickened and astonished’ at today’s news that Balfour Beatty now accepted that they had breached legal health and safety requirements.

This terrible saga began with four tragic deaths in the Hatfield train crash. As if this were not enough, the aftermath has shown us the most cynical side of big business and the most appalling aspects of British law.

‘Last week individual mangers got off scot-free, although it had been established that they had ignored clear warnings that the track was unsafe. Today, having protected its bosses, the company casually admits its guilt. 

‘If these senior managers were guilty today, they were guilty last week. The only difference is that they’ve now been protected by their friends. British industry has today assumed the moral standards of Al Capone. 

‘I feel sickened as a trade union leader. I can’t bear to think how the bereaved must feel.’

The change of plea at the Old Bailey comes after the judge last week threw out manslaughter charges against the company and five rail bosses. As the defence case was due to start, Balfour Beatty"s counsel Ronald Thwaites QC said the firm wished to plead guilty to the Health and Safety Act charge it still faced.

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