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Wednesday, 26 June, 2002, 18:15 GMT 19:15 UK
Rail safety whistle blower sacked
Wreckage at Potter's Bar
Mr Thompson had "privileged access" to crash scenes
A former police officer, who was part of a team trying to prevent future rail disasters, has been sacked after passing photographs showing crumbling track to a national newspaper.

Tony Thompson has been removed from his role after making public the pictures of broken sleepers near the scene of the Potter's Bar derailment.

Mr Thompson said he had sent the pictures to show the truth about the state of the railways and he described the decision to sack him as "vindictive".

But a spokesperson for the British Transport Police, with whom Mr Thompson served for 34 years, said the former police superintendent had acted "unprofessionally."

'Completely unjustifiable'

Mr Thompson was given access behind the police cordon at the scene of the Hertfordshire crash on 10 May in which seven people died and 76 were injured.

He took a photograph of a set of crumbling sleepers near to where the train came to rest, which were published in a national newspaper.

He has now been barred from taking up a six-month Home Office police training post at Bramshill, Hampshire, as well as being thrown off the Police Major Disaster Advisory (PMDA) Team.

Speaking to BBC News Online Mr Thompson said: "I think it is vindictive to take this action and completely unjustifiable.

"The reason I took the picture was in the public interest.

"People were saying the crash must have been caused by vandals because everything was up to standard, I was just saying what about the state of these sleepers.

'Privileged access'

"They gave the lie to the claim that all the standards had been met.

"It is not the responsibility of the police force to protect the rail industry which was happening in this case."

He said the photographs would have no affect on the investigation in to the cause of the crash.

Following the publication of the photograph the chief constable of the British Transport Police made representations to the advisory team claiming Mr Thompson had acted "unprofessionally".

A spokesman for the BTP said: "We took the view that this was unprofessional and a misjudgement.

"Mr Johnson was given privileged access to an accident scene - you don't then expect photographs to be handed to a national newspaper.

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11 Jun 02 | England
18 May 02 | England
14 May 02 | England
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