The Government's announcement of plans for legislation on corporate killing in May was followed by news that six executives at Network Rail and Balfour Beatty are to face manslaughter charges over the 2000 Hatfield rail crash. Both developments highlight the controversy over corporate criminal responsibility for fatal safety failures. Home secretary David Blunkett has said the new law would target companies rather than making it easier to prosecute individual directors. Some argue that senior company officers should be convicted and punished just as they can for breaching company law or financial wrongdoing. Others say board members in complex corporate structures would become scapegoats for managerial failures. A timetable for legislation has been promised this autumn, although safety campaigners have expressed doubts whether this long-promised reform will become a reality.
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