Transco Homicide Prosecution Collapses
Court of Criminal Appeal has dismissed 'culpable homicide'
charges against Transco PLC, the gas supply company,
for the homicide of four people who died on December
22, 1999 when a massive explosion destroyed a family
house in Larkhall.
was the first time that company had been prosecuted
in Scotland for a homicide offence
MacLean, on behalf of himself and Lord Osborne and
Lord Hamilton, stated that:
court is unanimously of the opinion that this indictment
in its first alternative (the culpable homicide
charge) is irrelevant."
which was formerly British Gas, still faces an alternative
charge of breaching the Health and Safety at Work
Act over the deaths of Andrew Findlay (34), his wife
Janette (37) and their children Stacey (13) and Daryl
decision overturns the judgment of Lord Carloway in
a lower court that ruled that:
may well be that in England there is a need to identify
a particular person who could, if charged, also
have been guilty of manslaughter, before a company
can be found to have committed that crime. It is
not a requirement under the Scots law of culpable
judge was referring to the 'identification test' -
which is part of the law in England and Wales - that
requires a 'controlling mind or will' of the company
to be prosecuted before a company can be charged for
the offence. The judge said that there was no reason
in principle in Scotland why the company should not
be guilty of the crime even although no single individual
could be prosecuted.
ruling by the Scottish Criminal Court of Appeal indicates
that the law in Scotland is the same or similar to
the law in England and Wales - and an individual director
must first be prosecuted before a company can be charged.
means that the arguments for enacting a new offence
of 'Corporate Killing' - proposed by both the Law
Commission in England and the Home Office are the
same in Scotland as in England and Wales. To read
more about this, Click
In its original indictment, the Crown Office has claimed
that Transco had shown "a complete and utter
disregard for the safety of the public" and particularly
that of the couple and their children.
download a copy of the indictment, Click
Here (word document)
It alleged that the firm had failed to devise, implement
or maintain any adequate or effective policy for the
maintenance, inspection or replacement of ductile
It claimed that the information on record systems
for the gas pipe which passed through the garden at
the family's home was inaccurate and incomplete.
It also alleged that the firm failed to properly investigate
computer records which showed that a gas main had
leaked on 27 separate occasions and that escapes of
gas from the main in Carlisle Road had been reported
by members of the public on at least 13 occasions
between July 1988 and December 1999.
The Crown alleged that Transco had used the main to
distribute gas to homes in the street when it was
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