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Wednesday, 20 March, 2002, 14:54 GMT
'Corporate killing' law demanded
Simon Jones
Relatives of Simon Jones, who died at work, will speak
Families of workplace death victims were due in Parliament on Wednesday to demand the introduction of a corporate killing law.

Relatives of those who died in tragedies like the Ladbroke Grove rail crash were also due to lobby MPs over making company directors legally accountable.

Campaigners argue criminal convictions against companies after a worker dies would be much more likely if the law is introduced.

They are also due to call for an increase in the level of fines courts can impose on convicted firms.

Corporate killing simply means a company will be fined...meanwhile the director just walks away

Anne Jones
Relatives including Anne Jones, whose son Simon was killed at Shoreham docks by a crane's grab claw in 1998 on his first day of work for Euromin Ltd, will speak at the meeting.

She told BBC News Online the most important issue is ensuring company directors become legally responsible for their employees' safety.

"Unless company directors are put in this position they are not actually going to take the issue seriously," she said.

"It's all very well for the government to want to introduce corporate killing, because they don't want to put directors on the spot.

Safety inspectors

"Corporate killing simply means a company will be fined, which will be paid for by shareholders in reduced dividends. Meanwhile the director just walks away."

Following the death of Mrs Jones' son, Euromin was fined for health and safety breaches.

But the company and general manager Richard Martell were found not guilty of manslaughter.

Demands for an increase the number of inspectors for the "under-resourced" Health and Safety Executive are also being raised with MPs.

The gantry that collapsed from Avonmouth bridge
The deaths of four workers from Avonmouth bridge in 1999 will be remembered
Others addressing the event include John Monks, general secretary of the TUC, which has organised the event with the Centre for Corporate Accountability (CCA).

Mr Monks said: "Sometimes the human side of these terrible tragedies isn't fully realised, and that is why we [need] persuade MPs that action is needed now."

Currently, under corporate manslaughter law, a company can only be convicted if a court establishes a director had a "controlling mind" over the circumstances that led to someone's death.

If the director is found not guilty, the company itself will automatically be cleared as well.

David Bergman, of the CCA said: "Corporate killing will mean a company can be convicted separately.

"This law was a promise from the Labour Party in 1997 - we're still waiting."

A Home Office statement said the Government is "committed to legislation in this area", but parliamentary time has delayed its introduction.

"The current law on manslaughter needs reform," the statement said.

"We have consulted on proposals to reform the law... including a new offence of corporate killing."

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See also:

30 Nov 01 | England
1m penalty for gantry deaths
29 Nov 01 | England
Company fined over student's death
19 Jun 01 | Business
Should companies face the courts?
19 Jun 01 | UK
Ladbroke Grove crash report
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