Jarvis, the maintenance company at the centre of investigations into the Potters Bar rail disaster, said yesterday that no more bonuses would be paid to its bosses until the cause of the crash was known.
Three weeks ago, those representing the bereaved and injured from the train crash attacked the company for "crass insensitivity" when it was revealed that its chief executive had received a £150,000 performance-related bonus, boosting his pay to £595,000.
Further bonuses, the details of which will not be revealed until the annual report next year, were paid to directors in early May, just days before seven people were killed when the West Anglia Great Northern train derailed in Hertfordshire.
Yesterday, Colin Skellett, its chairman, announced that all further increases would be put on hold until the cause of this "dreadful tragedy" was known.
"On the question of pay and bonuses, which has received much attention, we have not paid and will not pay any bonuses in relation to the period covered by the Potters Bar tragedy until we are absolutely clear as to what happened and where responsibilities lie," he told the company's annual meeting.
Robin Mabey, the brother of the author Nina Bawden, 77, who was injured and lost her husband, Austen Kark, was among those to criticise news in July that the chief executive, Paris Moayedi, had received a six-figure bonus. The chief operating officer, Kevin Hyde, was given £100,000. "The bonuses and pay increases should have been put on hold until Jarvis is exonerated," she said.
A spokesman for the company, said yesterday that this ban on bonuses was the company's first opportunity to prevent payments. The reported bonuses, he said, related to the year ending March 2001.
He conceded that more bonuses were paid to the board in early May, relating to the year ending March 2002 but said that no more would "even be considered" until the cause of the crash had been discovered.
"This is the first time we have been able to do something. We couldn't do anything retrospectively. Those bonuses relate to a period long before the Potters Bar crash and were already paid. You can't go to people who have received payments for last year and say you have got to give it back. They are legally entitled to that remuneration," he added.
Jarvis was responsible for work on the section of track where the accident happened. Last month, the company said that Railtrack was alerted to a problem on the line hours before the crash but directed maintenance workers to the wrong section of track.
Yesterday Mr Skellett said: "There has been much speculation surrounding the accident but this really is premature until investigations have been completed." Immediately after the crash Jarvis said that sabotage could not be ruled out.
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