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Hatfield engineer was unfairly dismissed, admits Network Rail

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NETWORK RAIL has admitted that it unfairly dismissed engineer Nick Jeffries, who was acquitted of charges relating to his role in the Hatfield train crash.

But it accused Jeffries of contributing to his own dismissal by breaching a 'specific instruction not to give press interviews in relation to his part in the Hatfield criminal trial'.

The admission is contained in documents submitted by Network Rail to the Employment Tribunal Service and seen by NCE.

effries was sacked in November last year after recounting to NCE his personal experiences of the eight month trial which followed the Hatfield crash.

He and four other engineers were acquitted of charges of manslaughter and health and safety violations following the October 2000 crash (NCE 19 January).

At the time he was working as a civil engineer for track maintenance firm Balfour Beatty. He subsequently worked for maintenance contractor Amey but moved across to Network Rail after it took maintenance back in-house.

Jeffries is seeking compensation and reinstatement and is taking Network Rail to an employment tribunal.

He disputes Network Rail's claim that the Hatfield defendants were given a specific instruction not to talk to the press.

The instruction is said to have been issued during a two day briefing ahead of the trial.

Jeffries also rejects Network Rail's claim that he breached the company's rules of conduct on the basis that he was speaking to the press about a personal matter. Network Rail's rules of conduct bar employees from speaking to the press without permission.

A Network Rail spokesman said it was for the Employment Tribunal to determine whether Jeffries was entitled to compensation or reinstatement. It would be irresponsible to second guess it, he added.

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