November 30, 2006 07:33 ET

Amicus says Corporate Manslaughter Bill does not go far enough

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(CCNMatthews - Nov. 30, 2006) - The trade union Amicus is seeking to make amendments to the Corporate Manslaughter Bill they say will fail to make company director's liable for the death of their employees.

As the new Corporate Manslaughter Bill is due to report back to the House of Commons (Monday 4th December 2006), Amicus say that the failure to allow for the imprisonment or heavy fine of individuals in companies found guilty of gross negligence will fail to improve safety standards.

Amicus also wants to see the inclusion of a corporate probation order that will make named individuals within companies responsible for making specific improvements to their health and safety standards within a set timeframe or face severe penalties.
Derek Simpson, Amicus' General Secretary, said: "Although we welcome the bill which will make it easier to bring prosecutions against companies that kill their employees, we want to see a much wider range of penalties.

"All the evidence shows that the threat of prosecution and imprisonment is the main incentive for companies to improve their health and safety standards."
Amicus say that they will campaign for further legislation unless secondary liabilities for senior directors and corporate probation clauses are introduced into the Corporate Manslaughter Bill.

Amicus has welcomed the ending of Crown Immunity in the new bill which means that public organisations such as the armed services, the police and government departments can be prosecuted for corporate killing.

As well as pushing for amendments to the bill, the union is also supporting an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons tabled by MPs that asks that legislation allows for the prosecution of senior company directors.

Under current law, a corporation can only be prosecuted if there is sufficient evidence to prove that one of its directors or senior managers committed manslaughter through gross negligence. As a consequence, only five corporate bodies have ever been convicted of manslaughter.

Comments from the victims families of corporate manslaughter:

Dorothy and Douglas Wright whose son Mark was killed last year in an explosion at a recycling plant say: "Like the victims of 7/7our son was also killed by a bomb, not by a terrorist but by a negligent employer. Unlike the victims of 7/7 the government wants to keep the circumstances of his death quiet, no commemoration, the laying of flowers at the spot forbidden, the perpetrator walks free protected by the present useless laws while the family is treated with contempt. Why should our son's life be worth so much less than those lost on 7/7?"

Dawn and Paul Adams whose son Samuel was 6 years old when he was killed at the newly opened Trafford Centre in October 1998 say: "On a family day out, when we should have been safe, our son was crushed when an 18 stone railing, which had been unsafely leant against a wall, hit him on the back of his head as he was standing in front of it. We know our health and safety law and work in the area of construction safety. The investigation process by the local authority horrified us as it totally failed to hold the employer accountable, sent the wrong message to other employers and has shaken our faith in health and safety law on top of the incredible heart break of seeing our son killed in such a terrible way that never should have happened."

Linda Whelan whose son Craig was killed in a fire in a chimney at Metal Box in Bolton said "My son was murdered on 23rd May 2002, after 4 years I am still waiting for an inquest. Over 3,000 people have been killed by work since this government came to power, if they were killed by terrorism then government and government agencies would be crying out. Are the lives of those killed at work for profit not as important? Isn't this another form of terrorism in our workforce? I want employers who put lives at risk to face corporate manslaughter charges."

Linzi Herbertson whose husband Andrew was killed when he fell from scaffold platform while dismantling a printing press in Oldham in January 1998 says

"Any employer who kills a worker by negligence should go to jail. Everyone should be able to go to work and come home safely but this won't happen until all employers know that if they don't take workers health and safety seriously they will face severe consequences. Health and safety at work is a human right not a privilege and every workplace needs a trade union safety rep to keep the employer up to scratch."

Contact Information

  • Amicus Press Office
    Catherine Bithell
    020 7 420 8909
    07958 473 224
    Families Against Corporate Killers
    Media Enquiries:
    0161 636 7557