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Relatives denied key documents in Southall crash Inquiry

RELATIVES OF the victims of the Southall train crash called this week for the early release of key documents into the accident (NCE 25 September 1997).

Speaking at a procedural meeting of the Health & Safety Commission's investigation into the tragedy, lawyer John Hendy said relatives were being prevented from preparing for the Public Inquiry.

'Some of the railway companies involved already have access to their own documents and are in a position to start their own investigations. We don't have access to any documents,' he said.

Hendy also called for new topics to be added to the Inquiry to focus on the relationship between privatised rail companies and their responsibility for passenger safety. 'We want to find out precisely what priority and resources were allocated to safety,' he said.

The accident happened 18 months ago when a high speed passenger train collided with an empty goods train in West London. It left six people dead and raised questions over the safety of Railtrack's automatic train warning system.

The start of the Public Inquiry has been delayed by ongoing criminal proceedings. The passenger train driver and operator Great Western Trains both face manslaughter charges and are due to be tried in June.

But Inquiry chairman Professor John Uff said documents could only be released once these prosecutions were concluded.

The Public Inquiry is expected to start on 20 September and is due to finish by the end of the year.

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