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Wednesday, 22 May, 2002, 15:03 GMT 16:03 UK
Charges possible over Paddington
Paddington rail crash
Thirty-one people died in the collision
Railtrack could still face corporate manslaughter charges over the Paddington rail crash, it has emerged.

The Crown Prosecution Service originally said it did not think the charges were applicable to the tragedy.

But after taking legal advice it announced on Wednesday that it had asked British Transport Police to conduct fresh inquiries two and a half years after the crash.

Lord Cullen
Lord Cullen led official inquiry
Thirty-one people died after a Thames Trains turbo service and a London-bound Great Western Express collided on 5 October, 1999.

Police are now being asked specifically to investigate the visibility of signals at the west London station.

An inquiry by Lord Cullen, published in June 2001, blamed a "lamentable failure" by Railtrack to respond to safety warnings before the accident.

It said the crash could probably have been prevented if rail managers had properly appreciated the risks posed by trains going through red signals.

And a Health and Safety report commissioned after the crash found that signalling in the area did not comply with relevant industry standards.

Evidence

The CPS sought further legal advice after representations from bereaved families.

It was made clear that the move should not be interpreted as an intention to prosecute and that any decision would depend on the new police evidence.

Relatives and survivors gave the announcement a cautious welcome.

Louise Christian, the solicitor acting for some of the bereaved families, said the CPS had interpreted the law wrongly when it decided not to prosecute over the deaths.

Byers 'lied'

She added: "We are concerned that an immunity granted by the Attorney General to oral and documentary evidence presented to Lord Cullen's inquiry may hamper British Transport Police in their efforts to find legally admissible evidence of the facts as found by Lord Cullen."

In a separate development, survivors of the Paddington crash have accused Transport Minister Stephen Byers of lying over his decision to place Railtrack in administration.

They said he told them on 12 September that he planned to wind up the company but he told Parliament he had not made the decision to do so until 5 October.

The government disputes the survivors' recollection of events.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Simon Montague
"The companies will end up in court one day"
The Paddington train crash inquiry


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