Railway Bosses Cleared over Hatfield Deaths; Executives Have Got Away with Murder, Claim Families of the Victims

Daily Mail (London), September 7, 2005 | Go to article overview

Railway Bosses Cleared over Hatfield Deaths; Executives Have Got Away with Murder, Claim Families of the Victims


Byline: RAY MASSEY

FAMILIES of Hatfield crash victims accused rail bosses of 'getting away with murder' last night after five were cleared of blame for the fatal disaster.

One mother said her son had been the victim of greed and negligence.

Relatives and rail unions both condemned the 'legalistic buck-passing' that left Network Rail to carry the can, rather than the individuals who ran it at the time, when it was still Railtrack. Lawyers for relatives and the unions demanded a reform of corporate manslaughter laws.

Network Rail, which the Government created to replace Railtrack, was convicted at the Old Bailey of breaking safety rules.

But three Railtrack executives and two from the maintenance firm Balfour Beatty were cleared after a seven-month trial.

The defence argued that it was unfair to make them scapegoats, saying they worked in an under-funded industry which had been neglected by governments for more than 40 years.

Network Rail and Balfour Beatty now By Ray Massey Transport Editor face ' unlimited' fines, expected to run into many millions, when sentences are pronounced next month.

Ultimately, however, it will be taxpayers who stump up any fine against Network Rail.

Four people were killed and 102 were injured when a King's Cross to Leeds train came off the tracks at 115mph on October 17, 2000.

Those who died were Steve Arthur, 46, from Pease Pottage, West Sussex, Peter Monkhouse, 50, of Leeds, Leslie Gray, 43, of Nottingham and New Zealander Robert Alcorn, 37.

Mr Arthur's mother Audrey said: 'They got away with murder. I don't care if they lock me up.

Justice was not seen to be done.' Her son left a widow, Lindsay, daughter Holly, 12 this month, and son Nicholas, nine. They were awarded [pounds sterling]1million compensation, which includes money to fund the children's university education.

Mrs Arthur, 78, from Crawley in Sussex, said: 'He was a wonderful son and a loving husband and father. If it was not for my grandchildren I'd have nothing to live for.' She directed most of her fury at former Railtrack boss Gerald Corbett - now chairman of Woolworths - against whom charges were dropped last year. Mrs Arthur said: 'None of the directors seemed to show any remorse.' She said her son, who flew executive jets, had worked hard to better himself and provide for his family. Mrs Arthur said: 'He had so much to live for but he was taken in the prime of life.

'My son was a victim of greed and negligence. All they could think of was their bigger bonuses. They didn't invest the money in the track.

'My son was very safetyconscious. To have his life taken on an unsafe train is unbearable. …

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