Fleet News

MPs back corporate manslaughter bill

MPs gave initial support yesterday to a new corporate manslaughter law designed to make it easier to prosecute companies for fatal accidents.

After passing its crucial second reading stage, the bill will now be debated in committees and may be modified slightly before being voted on again.

Home Secretary John Reid acknowledged to parliament that the bill was not perfect, calling it a 'limited but important bill', but said it would fill some gaps in current legislation.

'It will I believe meet the specific failing in our present criminal law. It will enshrine a more effective offence of corporate manslaughter, one which properly targets corporate failures," he told Parliament.

'It will make justice possible for those killed at work through gross corporate negligence,' he said.

Critics of the current laws say they make it difficult to pursue companies because of the problems of highlighting negligence by senior individuals.

The bill suggests a new offence that targets serious failings in strategic management of a company's activities that have led to death.

It also seeks to target corporate, not individual liability. The new law would not require any individual to be guilty. But where one person was clearly to blame, prosecution on an individual basis will remain possible for existing offences.

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