BR official took 'lavish bribes'

A SENIOR British Rail official took lavish bribes for nearly 10 years from a company supplying equipment to the railways, an Old Bailey court was told yesterday.

David Currie, the former director of BR's civil engineering department, took expensive holidays and outings including a flight on Concorde and a trip on the Orient Express, Michael Worsley QC, for the prosecution, said.

An Austrian-based company, Plasser Railway Machinery (GB) Ltd, and two of its senior executives, Norbert Jurasek and Michael Brooks, were 'at the heart of the bribery' that went on between 1979 and 1988, he added.

Mr Currie resigned shortly after detectives from British Transport Police raided Plasser's offices in west London and found extensive documentary evidence that the company had paid for Mr Currie and his wife on some occasions to travel around the world.

All three men and the company deny plotting to bribe BR employees. Mr Jurasek, 51, Plasser's managing director, of Wargrave, Buckinghamshire; Mr Brooks, 64, a company secretary, of Ringwood, Hampshire; and Plasser also deny giving Mr Currie a string of gifts. Mr Currie, 66, of Penn, Buckinghamshire, denies taking them.

Mr Worsley told the court, sitting in Chancery Lane, that 'systematic corruption took place over 10 years to many BR employees'. Mr Currie was head of the civil engineering department from 1985 to 1988, when police moved in.

The defendants variously face a total of 19 charges which Mr Worsley said were 'mere samples of corruption'. He added: 'If there were a charge for every transaction the court would be full of defendants and the indictment would be nearly a mile long.'

Mr Worsley said no interpretation other than the gifts were corrupt could be put on it. Contracts with BR amounted to 95 per cent of Plasser's work, the court heard.

Lists of gifts given to BR employees were kept at Plasser's office at Ealing, west London. Mr Jurasek told a secretary the list would be 'dynamite' in the wrong hands, and told her to keep it secret, Mr Worsley said.

The trial continues.