Union says Hatfield decision means managers

17 July 2005

Keith Norman, General Secretary of ASLEF the train driver’s union, said that today’s court decision to drop all manslaughter charges against senior Railtrack and Balfour Beatty rail bosses over the fatal train crash at Hatfield in 2000 was ‘a terrible indictment of our legal system and a sad measure of society’s concern for working people’.

‘‘I am appalled at this decision,’ Keith said. ‘It means that managers can rest assured that they no longer have any responsibility for the safety of the staff who work for them. They can cock a snoop at health and safety legislation. 

‘If managers can ignore warnings about serious safety hazards and find the law excusing them, we are back to the darkest days of the industrial revolution. 

‘When the judge doesn’t even trouble himself to explain the decision, it is a desperate indictment of the legal system. Transparency and honesty seem to hit the buffers when they enter a court of law.’

Last September a court dismissed separate corporate manslaughter charges against Railtrack and Balfour Beatty over the crash.

Now its former employees Tony Walker and Nick Jeffries had been found not guilty of manslaughter, but still faced lesser charges under the Health and Safety Act.

Managers Alistair Cook, Sean Fugill and Keith Lea of now-defunct Railtrack (now Network Rail) were also accused.

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