Charges are dropped over train deaths

MANSLAUGHTER CHARGES against the train driver and rail operator involved in the September 1997 Southall crash, in which seven people died, were dropped yesterday.

Relatives of victims and crash survivors led calls for a clearer law on corporate killing after an Old Bailey judge threw out the Crown Prosecution Service case against Great Western Railways.

Mr Justice Scott Baker said that the CPS case was "not applicable" under current legislation. He said the prosecution had been pursued despite Law Commission recommendations that the law needed to be changed before corporate manslaughter charges can be brought.

Seven people died and 160 were injured when the GWR Swansea to Paddington express ran into a goods train at high speed. GWR had been charged with corporate manslaughter and health and safety breaches, and the driver was also charged with manslaughter.

The collapse of the case brought further criticism of the CPS's handling of the affair. It has already been attacked for the long delay in bringing charges, laid only last December, which has in turn delayed the public inquiry into the accident until September.

Desmond Collins, of Collins solicitors, who is representing more than 40 of the victims, said: "The passengers are entitled to a full and immediate answer as to why we should wait for almost two years to achieve absolutely nothing. The truth is, in fact, that there can be no possible justification for the indecision and delay that have been the hallmarks of this investigation and prosecution."

Detective Superintendent Graham Satchwell of the British Transport Police, who has led the investigation into the crash from the beginning, was among those calling for changes in the law.

"We need an Act of Parliament that will create an offence of corporate killing and, with other ingredients of man-slaughter by gross negligence, allow the prosecution to aggregate blame on corporate killing," he said after the case.

Seven manslaughter charges against the driver of the express, 52-year old Larry Harrison, were also dropped after the Crown said it would be offering no evidence because of psychiatric reports saying Mr Harrison, who denied the charges, had been psychologically damaged by the accident and its consequences. GWR did, however, admit health and safety breaches. It will be sentenced on those counts later this month.

John Body, 57, who survived the accident, said that all the CPS seemed to have done was delay the inquiry. "It has just intensified my anger," he said. "We need to know what went wrong so it doesn't happen again." He was one of hundreds of passengers on the express.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
A bartender serves beers
news
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig and Rory Kinnear film Spectre in London
film
Life and Style
The finale at Dolce and Gabbana autumn/winter 2015
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?