Rail crash families must wait for justice

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The Independent Online
THE families of the seven people killed in Britain's worst rail disaster since 1988 will have to wait "for years" before the cause of the accident can be investigated.

Lawyers for the families of victims killed in the Southall crash last September say that with possible criminal prosecutions pending, it could be 18 months before a public inquiry can start and the first evidence is heard. Professor John Uff, the inspector appointed to head the public inquiry which opened and adjourned yesterday, promised everything would be done to restart the investigation as soon as possible.

But the mother of one of those killed said the delay was "unbearable". Maureen Kavanagh, 51, of Laindon, Essex, whose son Peter, 29, was killed in the crash, said it was very difficult for families to cope with the inevitable delay to the inquiry.

"This has devastated my life. Peter was my only son and I loved him. I want to see justice done," she said.

Professor Uff said that to go on with the inquiry might have prejudiced any prosecutions arising from the crash in west London. The accident occurred when a packed Great Western express train was in collision with an empty goods train.

More than 150 people were injured in the crash which, in terms of fatalities, was the worst since 35 people died in the Clapham crash in 1988.

John Hendy QC, representing 32 victims of the crash, including the families of five of those killed, told the inquiry: "It may be 12-18 months before the process of prosecution is completed." Mr Hendy called on the rail companies in the meantime to release documents to the victims' families which could help establish what happened on the day of the disaster.