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Balfour Beatty admits health and safety breaches


BALFOUR BEATTY this week admitted that failings at its Hitchin office contributed to the fatal Hatfield rail crash in 2000.

The company announced on Monday that it was pleading guilty to charges that it had breached the Health & Safety at Work Act, two days after manslaughter charges were thrown out. It had previously pleaded not guilty to the charge.

But it rejected claims that it had failed to comply with Railtrack standards.

Barrister Ronald Thwaites QC said Balfour Beatty accepted that there had been faults with track inspection regimes leading up to the October 2000 crash.

After the crash it was established that a defective rail suffering from gauge corner cracking (GCC) had shattered beneath a train.

Thwaites said on Monday that inspections carried out by the firm's local route section manager's office had been conducted from a position to the side of the line. He said track faults could not be seen from that spot.

But he said that no guidance was made available for renewing track suffering from GCC.

The company will be sentenced after the trial is over.

On Thursday the judge directed the jury to find all defendants not guilty of manslaughter charges.

Five engineers and Network Rail still plead not guilty to charges under the Health & Safety at Work Act.

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