THE ICE has stood by its decision to hold a closed meeting to hear the views of the company at the centre of a manslaughter investigation into last May's rail accident at Potters Bar (NCE last week).
Immediate past president Mark Whitby hosted the meeting last month at the Institution to hear the views of rail maintenance firm Jarvis about the Potters Bar crash. The firm was responsible for maintenance of the track where the tragedy occurred.
Jarvis maintains its maintenance procedures were in order and has presented evidence to the ICE meeting with industry invitees which it says could point to sabotage being a cause of the crash.
A letter to Whitby dated 12 November from solicitor Louise Christian, representing people injured or bereaved by the accident, accuses the ICE of behaving insensitively in holding the meeting.
ICE communications director Anne Moir said the ICE would be responding, and defended the meeting as a necessary discussion by a learned society.
'It is part of the normal process to find out what lessons can be learned, ' she said.
Whitby said that the progress and release of information from rail accident investigations was too slow because they were often focused on criminal charges. 'Many lessons learned from the aviation industry can be applied to the railways, ' he said.
Meanwhile, Christian told NCE that work and maintenance schedule paperwork from Jarvis had only recently been handed over to the Health & Safety Executive. She was finalising work on legal action which hopes to determine liability on the part of either Railtrack or Jarvis, or both, soon.
A British Transport Police (BPT) spokesman this week confirmed to NCE that the Potters Bar inquiry was considering manslaughter charges into the accident last May in which seven people died when a train derailed at points approaching the station.
'We hope to conclude our investigations by the middle of next year, ' the BTP spokesman added. He also said that the investigation into the nearby Hatfield crash, when four people died in October 2000, was expected to finish 'early next year'.