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Silent Hatfield defendents 'had no case to answer'


DEFENDANTS IN the Hatfi eld crash trial decided against giving evidence because they believed they had no case to answer, defence barristers told the Old Bailey this week.

Four of the defendants declined to give evidence at the Old Bailey, and were criticised by the prosecution for having no satisfactory explanation for the crash (News last week).

Network Rail track engineer Keith Lea's barrister Roy Amlot QC said: 'Mr Lea has not given evidence and that is his right in law.

'The Crown has not established a case for him to answer.' Both Amlot and Timothy Langdale QC, representing Network Rail area asset manger Sean Fugill, highlighted their clients' co-operation with the police in interviews following October 2000's derailment.

They said these accounts were sufficient as none of the prosecution's witnesses had contradicted their clients' statements.

In fact, barristers for Fugill, Lea and Balfour Beatty regional director Anthony Walker used statements by the prosecution witnesses to support their not guilty pleas.

Anthony Glass QC, representing Walker, told the jury that it was unfair to draw any adverse conclusions against his client for not giving evidence and added:

'If Mr Walker has said anything untrue then the prosecution has had years to prove the falsity, but they haven't.' Lea, Fugill, Walker, Balfour Beatty civil engineer Nicolas Jeffries, Network Rail asset manager Alistair Cook and the company Network Rail all plead not guilty to breaches of the Health & Safety at Work Act following the fatal Hatfield crash in October 2000. Balfour Beatty changed its plea to guilty earlier this month (NCE 21 July).

Barristers' closing statements were expected to finish later this week. The trial resumes at the end of the month.

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