Inquest verdict 'does not help prove crime was committed'

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THE VERDICT of unlawful killing at yesterday's inquest has no legal implications in terms of helping to prove that a criminal offence has been committed, writes Jason Bennetto.

Any decision to bring a corporate manslaughter charge against the company involved will be made by the Director of Public Prosecutions. However, it is extremely difficult to bring a criminal charge against a corporate defendant because the prosecution has to show a single person was responsible at a sufficiently high level of seniority. This was one of the stumbling blocks in the unsuccessful prosecution following the capsize of the Herald of Free Enterprise in 1987.

Gareth Williams QC, the former Bar Council chairman, said: 'An inquest's . . . findings no longer have any direct legal implication in terms of crime.' They will, however, help victims' relatives obtain compensation.