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Judge imposes tough safety audit on LUL


A JUDGE has ordered London Underground to submit to a root and branch audit by the Railway Inspectorate before imposing sentence for safety offences.

Judge John Samuels made the order at Blackfriars Crown Court on Monday after London Underground (LUL) pleaded guilty to allowing unsafe working practices on track work between 1996 and January last year.

He is expected to pass sentence in six months following the outcome of the review and the wrangle over plans to upgrade the Tube with private finance.

At the same hearing he fined sacked LUL operations manager Dave Elkington £5,000 for breaches of the Health & Safety at Work Act.

The court heard how a gang of workers on the Central Line was exposed to live rails. Some received shocks and one ended up in hospital on a heart machine.

Elkington was described by the judge as a 'dictatorial bully', sacking men who complained.

Action was only taken after the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) discovered men working on live rails after a tip-off. His fine includes compensation of up to £350 to 13 of the men who worked under him.

The judge criticised LUL for initially contesting the allegations. 'LUL, despite the lip service it paid to health and safety issues, fell lamentably short of the proper safety standards [and] ignored its obligations in this respect for almost four years, ' he said.

In mitigation, LUL presented a new risk management framework produced at a cost of £1M with help from staff at consultant Amey Vectra.

But the judge said he wanted an independent HSE assessment of LUL safety systems before sentencing and that he was considering a 'heavy penalty'.

LUL said it had introduced new management procedures and a confidential whistleblower hotline since the events.

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