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    POTTERS BAR RAIL CRASH INQUESTS CONCLUDED

    Points failure was caused by poor track inspection and maintenance

    Seven people died in the 2002 Potters Bar rail crash. The inquest has now concluded that failures in track inspection and maintenance caused the points failure that led to the deaths.

    The jury heard that points near Potters Bar station were “cracked” and “poorly” maintained. Judge Michael Findlay Baker will now provide a report to the Lord Chancellor warning of the potential for another fatal crash on the railways.

    In October 2005 the CPS advised the British Transport Police (BTP) that the evidence did “not provide a realistic prospect of conviction for an offence of gross negligence manslaughter against any individual or corporation.” This will now be reviewed in the light of the inquest evidence.

    The Rail Regulator will also consider whether or not proceedings under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 are appropriate.

    Comment

    In 2002 a corporate gross negligence manslaughter required the CPS to have identified a specific individual as committing a serious duty of care breach causing a death.

    When the evidence was reviewed in 2005 the CPS could not identify any individual as having committed that breach of care.

    It is unlikely that sufficient evidence has emerged at the inquest to change this decision. A prosecution under HSW Act 1974 is now the most likely form of criminal proceedings

    For deaths occurring after April 2007 the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 makes a manslaughter prosecution a far more likely outcome in such cases.

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