Ministers to end delay on corporate killing law

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The Independent Online

Plans to overhaul corporate manslaughter laws will finally be announced this week – more than a decade after Labour first promised the move.

Plans to overhaul corporate manslaughter laws will finally be announced this week – more than a decade after Labour first promised the move.

A pledge to make company directors and big corporations take responsibility for negligence leading to death was included in the party's election manifestos of 1997 and 2001.

But the move has repeatedly been put on the backburner in the face of hostility from organisations such as the Confederation of British Industry. They have complained it is too bureaucratic and impractical because of the problems in proving the culpability of individuals in large companies.

Backbench anger on the delays is expected to reach a head in the Commons tomorrow as the Criminal Justice Bill passes through its final report stage, with the more than 50 Labour MPs expected to back an amendment calling for a new offence of corporate killing.

Faced with another rebellion from disgruntled MPs, the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, is preparing to head off the unrest with a commitment to legislate within the next year. If they had existed in the past, such laws could have been used in relation to disasters from Zeebrugge to Potters Bar.

Andrew Dismore, the Labour MP for Hendon, who is leading pressure for reform of the laws, said: "It seems bizarre to me that directors can face responsibility for certain types of financial irregularity, but not if they kill somebody."