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CCA Press Releases

01 October 2002

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Correspondence of Home Office with private sector reveals Government’s current thinking.

Five years ago this week, the Rt. Hon. Jack Straw MP, then Home Minister, promised to reform the law of manslaughter and enact a new offence of Corporate Killing.

Since then, there have been over 2000 work-related deaths and the Southall, Paddington and Potters Bar Rail Crashes.

Only three companies have ever been convicted of manslaughter – all them of them very small. To see the list, click here

The May 2001 Labour Party election Manifesto also stated that "Law Reform is necessary to make provisions against corporate manslaughter"

The Centre has obtained a copy of a letter sent on 10 September 2002 by the Home Office to industries in the private sector asking them for their "assessment of the potential effect" of introducing a new offence of corporate killing.
To download a copy of the Home office letter, Click here (word)

The letter to the private sector reveals, for the first since the government published its consultation document in May 2000, the Government's current thinking on the proposed reforms. To see what these proposals say, click here

The CCA has three concerns about what the Home office has stated in the letter:

it is being suggested that in the new offence the company’s failures will be measured against "industry standards" even if the industry standards are inadequate
Crown bodies will continue to have immunity from prosecution for this new offence
Company managers and directors will not be able to prosecuted for "significantly contributing" to the new offence

The letter also suggests that the current law only allows "successful prosecutions" to be brought adjacent very small companies". Although the current law does allow large companies to escape accountability - which is why reform is required - it is not our view that successful manslaughter proceedings can never be brought against large companies under the current law. This depends on the level of failure on the part of individual directors and senior managers and the adequacy of the investigation.

The letter states at the end "We need to complete this exercise as quickly as possible preferably before the next parliamentary session beings. Could I therefore have your returns by Friday 1 November?"

For Further information contact 020 7490 4494

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