Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Rail Chiefs May Face Charges as Paddington Crash Victims Seek Justice

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Rail Chiefs May Face Charges as Paddington Crash Victims Seek Justice

Article excerpt

Byline: DICK MURRAY

THE bosses of Railtrack could face manslaughter charges over the Paddington rail crash.

Police now believe they have enough evidence bring the charges against senior figures in the now-defunct firm in the wake of the 1999 crash, which claimed 31 lives.

Officers are preparing to hand over evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service in a move which could see directors or senior officers in the firm facing huge fines they are found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence.

But they are very unlikely to face jail terms.

If the prosecutions succeed would be a major step in bringing justice to victims of the disaster.

Crash survivor Anthony Knox, 45, said he would be "delighted" to see prosecutions brought against those charge.

Mr Knox, a senior lecturer in paediatric intensive care, is still only able to work part-time because his injuries.

"If they could get Gerald Corbett Railtrack chief executive at the time - in the dock, I would be dancing," he said. "I would be keen see those in charge in the dock and not just some middle managers."

A legal source said that prosecutors would have to prove that individual executives in charge at the time had personally been "grossly negligent".

But they could also bring separate charges of corporate manslaughter against named executives if it could be established that they were in overall control of safety at the time.

If Railtrack executives were found guilty of corporate manslaughter, then the company's successor, Network Rail, could also face unlimited fines.

DAVID Bergman, director of the Centre for Corporate Accountability, said; "There is an extremely high burden of proof involved. Only two companies have been prosecuted for corporate manslaughter one following the Southall crash, 1997, and P&O after Zeebrugge.

Both cases collapsed."

Moves to bring prosecutions over victims of the disaster around 500 people were injured the crash, many seriously. …

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