No restorative justice for those bereaved by Potters Bar
Mar 22, 2011
The farcical nature of the criminal proceedings against the companies so long after the [train crash in which two women were killed] is the consequence of the failure of accountability at the time it happened. Jarvis and its chairman, Steven Norris, made spurious claims of sabotage and there was a delay of nearly two years before liability was admitted by Network Rail and Jarvis.
Even then the admission was done with bad grace. The government initially delayed making any decision on whether to have a public inquiry until December 2005. The following year Lord Justice Moses refused to overturn this decision after the bereaved families challenged it in court.
However, he said that any new evidence should lead to a reconsideration by the government and he stressed the importance of restorative justice: "They (the bereaved) do seek some identification; faces, names, the real people whose anonymity cannot be hidden behind the facade of monolithic organisations." And he continued: "If those individuals, whose actions or omissions might have saved life or contributed to death, fear that they may one day have to come face to face with those who suffer as a result of that they have done or failed to do, life may be protected in the future."
In February 2007 the case for a public inquiry was revived by the Grayrigg train crash, which happened for much the same reasons – that is, the failure of a set of points due to inadequate maintenance. It took successive transport secretaries another three years to decide not to have a public inquiry into both crashes.
Last year there was finally an inquest, instead of the public inquiry the families wanted. Jarvis was not represented, although Norris was called to give evidence about the sabotage claims. The families presented the case for Network Rail to adopt independently verified safety management systems but are still not satisfied that this has happened.