Hatfield crash charges dropped for rail executives

Last updated at 15:48 01 September 2004

Charges brought against three Railtrack executives in the wake of the Hatfield crash have been quashed today by an Old Bailey judge.

Mr Justice Mackay allowed applications from the three - including former Railtrack chief executive Gerald Corbett, now chairman of Woolworths - that the charges should be dropped ahead of the full trial scheduled for October 4.

Balfour Beatty, the rail maintenance firm, and several of its executives at the time of the rail crash in which four people died on October 17, 2000, still face various charges of manslaughter due to gross negligence and offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The judge, giving his ruling on the applications at the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand, London, quashed Health and Safety Act charges against Mr Corbett.

He also quashed 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.

'Victims will be devastated'

The four who died when a GNER express derailed half a mile south of Hatfield station in Hertfordshire were Steve Arthur, 46, from Pease Pottage, West Sussex; Peter Monkhouse, 50, of Headingley, Leeds; Leslie Gray, 43, of Tuxford, Nottingham; and Robert James Alcorn, 37, of Auckland, New Zealand.

The accident led to a network-wide inspection of tracks and speed restrictions on trains while the work took place.

Reacting to the quashing of the charges, campaigning solicitor Louise Christian, who represents one of the Hatfield victims and also acts for those involved in, and bereaved by, other recent rail accidents, said: "The Hatfield victims will be absolutely devastated."

She went on: "They will feel incredibly let down and the victims of the (1999) Paddington crash who are waiting to see if charges will be brought in their case, will also be worried now."

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