Railtrack chief condemns managers for 'outrageous' hotel rampage

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The Independent Online

Railtrack's chief executive was said to be "incandescent with rage" yesterday after 18 managers allegedly went on a drunken rampage the day after the Paddington inquiry began.

Staff at the infrastructure company apparently had to restrain Gerald Corbett from dismissing them all on the spot for what he said was "insensitive and disgusting" behaviour.

Instead, Railtrack has ordered an inquiry into the "team-building" session held last Friday during a 12-hour drinking session at the £90-a-night Balmer Lawn Hotel in Brockenhurst, Hampshire.

The managers, led by Paul White, a contracts manager, who has been suspended, allegedly ranted at staff, played loud music and outraged other guests. Perhaps most embarrassingly for Railtrack, the managers tried to force staff at the hotel to break safety rules and open a swimming-pool out of hours.

Mr Corbett promised a full inquiry. "The behaviour was utterly outrageous and completely against company policy and we must ensure it never happens again," he said.

Len Northcott, whose son, John, 24, died in the crash, said: "These people think they can get away with anything. That was why Paddington happened. They should be sacked."

Brenda Morelli, whose brother, Derek Antonowitz, 25, also died, said: "That they do these things doesn't surprise me in the slightest. Railtrack believe they are above the law and can get away with anything. As far as they are concerned, they are untouchable."

Industry sources said Mr Corbett believed the managers' behaviour was unforgivable. One said: "That it should occur at all is bad enough but for it to occur now at the start of the ... inquiry is really awful. He is spitting blood. Words cannot describe his anger and he wants heads on poles."