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The BBC's Tim Hirsch
"Reliving the horror"
 real 28k

Andrea Bryce, train crash survivor
"We do feel appalled"
 real 28k

David Bergman, Centre for Corporate Accountability
"The law protects companies and company directors"
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Gerald Corbett, Chief Executive of Railtrack
"This is an opportunity for the whole industry to be put under a great deal of scrutiny"
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Wednesday, 10 May, 2000, 09:27 GMT 10:27 UK
Anger as crash inquiry begins
Paddington rail crash
Paddington: 31 people were killed
Survivors and bereaved relatives have voiced their anger at the decision not to bring manslaughter charges as the inquiry into the Paddington rail crash begins.

The collision between two packed commuter trains near London's Paddington station last October killed 31 people and left 250 injured, many of whom are still receiving treatment.

Survivors spokesperson Louise Christian told a packed news conference: "We are looking to this inquiry very much to provide a blueprint for the future, to set out what's needed to make our railways safe."

Ms Christian read a message from Natalie Adams, whose husband, Michael, was paralysed in the crash, and is the only survivor still in hospital.

Mrs Adams, from Oregon in the United States, said: "We felt as US citizens, it was an insult that they decided not to prosecute so quickly.

Ms Christian added: "I think it is a matter of international shame the way the Director of Public Prosecutions took this decision."


Ms Christian called for the proceedings to be televised, to keep the inquiry "in the public eye".

She said: "We want the Government to listen to this inquiry. Recommendations made after the Clapham crash were not implemented on cash grounds.

"The people sitting here today want to know that the Government and the the rail companies will treat this inquiry with respect."

Senior Scottish judge Lord Cullen is heading the inquiry into the crash, which occurred on 5 October last year.

His job is to establish why a morning rush-hour Thames train went through a red signal just outside Paddington train station and collided with a Great Western express.

The Association of Train Operating Companies has welcomed the Lord Cullen inquiry and said all the firms would play their part in establishing the tragedy's root causes.

Lord Cullen is heading the inquiry
Its general secretary, George Muir, said: "The accident shocked everyone in the industry.

"Since then, we have examined every aspect of our operations, looking at things such as human behaviour, technology and the organisation."

Lord Cullen, has separately welcomed the inquiry's start.

Proceedings begin in Westminster, central London, and this first part of the inquiry should last until late July.

Rail death toll
The Paddington rail crash: 31 people were killed and 250 injured in October 1999
The Southall rail crash: Seven people died and 150 were injured in September 1997

Tuesday's decision by the Crown Prosecution Service not to prosecute prompted the DPP, David Calvert-Smith, to call for a new offence of "corporate killing".

New law pledge

He said: "I believe that the time has come for an offence of corporate killing to reach the statute book.

"The common law of manslaughter has not proved a sufficient weapon to punish and deter companies, particularly large companies, whose gross negligence, combined together, has caused death.

"I believe it's overdue. The government has seen the need for it and it will reach the statute book in the near future."

The Health and Safety Executive produced three interim reports into the accident, none of which gave a definitive cause of the crash.

However, the third report said it was "conceivable" that a track fault could have caused Thames driver Michael Hodder, 31, to receive a false "green signal ahead" indication as he approached signal 109, through which he passed at danger.

Mr Hodder was killed in the crash and the other Great Western driver involved, Brian Cooper, 52, also died.

In September this year, Lord Cullen is due to hold a joint inquiry with professor John Uff into issues common to the Paddington crash and the September 1997 Southall rail accident, in which seven people died.

In mid-October, the Paddington inquiry's second part will resume, and will deal with general rail safety issues.

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11 Jan 00 | London train crash
London train crash: special report
11 Oct 99 | London train crash
Analysis: Is profit to blame?
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