Straw confirms plans for corporate killing legislation

Click to follow
Government plans for company directors to face charges of "corporate killing" were confirmed yesterday by Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, who said that those whose criminal negligence caused the deaths of innocent people should not escape punishment.

John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, also backed the move, reported exclusively in The Independent yesterday, saying that people were concerned about safety on the railways because private companies were driven by profit. Personal injury lawyers said the planned reform, based on recommendations from the Law Commission last year, was long overdue.

Andrew Tucker, a senior personal injury partner with the Sheffield law firm Irwin Mitchell, who acted for bereaved families after the Zeebrugge, King's Cross, Clapham and Marchioness disasters, said: "It will force directors to become accountable and take health and safety very seriously or face heavy fines." There have only been two successful prosecutions for "corporate" manslaughter, but these both involved small, one-man companies.

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers said the old law was unworkable because of the need to prove that one person, the "controlling mind" of the corporation, caused the deaths.