Railtrack executives have Hatfield crash charges dismissed

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Charges of manslaughter against the now defunct Railtrack and one of its senior managers over the Hatfield disaster were dropped yesterday.

Charges of manslaughter against the now defunct Railtrack and one of its senior managers over the Hatfield disaster were dropped yesterday.

Lesser charges against two other executives, including Gerald Corbett, the company's chief executive and now chairman of Woolworths, were also quashed.

The judge dismissed manslaughter charges against Charles Pollard, 45, director of the London north eastern zone of Railtrack, and a health and safety charge against Christopher Leah, 55, director of safety and operations at Railtrack.

The decision by Mr Justice Mackay, an Old Bailey judge, led to new calls for the Government to introduce tougher legislation. Under existing law, it is difficult to bring offending directors to book, lawyers say. Louise Christian, a solicitor who represents a Hatfield victim and also acts for those involved in, and bereaved by, other rail crashes, said: "The Hatfield victims will be absolutely devastated."

The engineering contractor Balfour Beatty and several of its senior executives at the time of the derailment, still face charges of manslaughter due to gross negligence and other offences under the Health and Safety Act.

Four people died in October 2000 when a Great North Eastern Railways express derailed on a broken rail half a mile south of Hatfield in Hertfordshire.