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Rail bosses cleared over Hatfield crash

Network Rail was today convicted at the Old Bailey of breaking safety rules before the Hatfield rail disaster.
But five railway executives were cleared of all charges. Four people died and 102 were injured when the King's Cross to Leeds train came off the tracks at 115mph on October 17, 2000.

The prosecution alleged the derailment occurred because of a cavalier approach to safety. The defence argued it was unfair to make the five rail executives scapegoats.

They worked in an under-funded industry which had been neglected by governments for more than 40 years, Jonathan Goldberg QC, defending one of the men, told the court.

The five men and Network Rail, formerly Railtrack, all denied

health and safety charges.

The individual defendants were Balfour Beatty Rail Maintenance Limited regional director Anthony Walker, 48; Nicholas Jeffries, 50, civil engineer for the same firm; Railtrack North Eastern managers Alistair Cook, 52, and Sean Fugill, 52, and Railtrack LNE track engineer Keith Lea, 55.

Engineering giant Balfour Beatty admitted earlier that it breached safety standards before the disaster. But the company did not accept all the allegations.

The company had already been formally cleared by Mr Justice Mackay of a corporate manslaughter charge before today's verdicts.

The judge had also earlier cleared the five executives of unlawfully killing the four who died.

The jury of 11 men and one woman reached the verdicts during a fourth day of deliberations after trial judge Mr Justice Mackay told them they could return majority decisions.