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the question Hatfield crash charges

Engineers have been charged with manslaughter following the Hatfield train crash.

What are your views?

Corporate manslaughter prosecutions are rarely successful and those charged are perhaps themselves the victims of current social opinion and political direction. If this prosecution helps to instill appropriate attitudes at the highest levels within all commercially motivated organisations then it will affect the industry in a way that the CDM Regulations do not yet appear to have done and it must be viewed positively. However, all changes ultimately have a price in one form or another and after clamouring for blood, the public and government must accept the verdict.

Simon Lawrence, 30, senior engineer, Cardiff It seems to me that it all comes down to accountability - but who has the ultimate accountability?

The managers who manage available resources? The company directors who direct the available resources into appropriate service areas? The government which governs the amount of available resources? So, yes - increased accountability is good - but it needs to be proportional to the ultimate influence and responsibility of the individuals concerned.

Rob Andrew, 38, policy manager, Cornwall I can quite see, where injury or death might be caused to other people, that those responsible for the design and upkeep of the item which puts lives at risk should be answerable to the courts where their culpability can be tested. I, like most practising engineers, just wonder where the ghost from my past career is going to appear. I doubt if anyone who has ever exercised engineering judgement can honestly say that they will not now always be looking over their shoulder and, having done their honest best, now be concerned. I trust the courts enough to believe that, if the person on trial can show that they had the necessary expertise and were acting in good faith and using sound professional judgement, then there will be the outcome that one would expect.

But I cannot believe that it will be anything but a horrendous experience for anyone who goes through it. And, if people can be put on trial for the deaths caused on the railways, all motorway designers should look out.

Jim Goodbrand, 55, principal project engineer, West Sussex I do not know if those charged are indeed the persons responsible but the spectre of a corporate killing charge would concentrate minds for those on the site and those in the head office.

Andrew Chan, 42, university reader, Birmingham I believe that if the rail managers' actions or negligent inactions are responsible for the event, and can be proved to be so, then they are ultimately responsible, morally and legally. Codes and standards were established to foster best practice and if an individual or company moves away from established practices then they must satisfactorily prove their case for doing so.

Paul Oliver, 30, professional engineer, Devon

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