Criminal prosecutions

Nigel Moore made this Freedom of Information request to British Waterways Board

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was successful.

Dear British Waterways Board,

Please provide a list of all criminal cases that British Waterways has defended over the past 10 years; which of those were lost by BW; what penalties were imposed where BW were found guilty, and which, if any, of those cases held any individual BW officer personally responsible.

Yours faithfully,

Nigel Moore

Information Request,

Dear Mr Moore,

Thank you for your e-mail of 30th May which we received on 31st May and your request for the following information:

'Please provide a list of all criminal cases that British Waterways
has defended over the past 10 years; which of those were lost by
BW; what penalties were imposed where BW were found guilty, and
which, if any, of those cases held any individual BW officer
personally responsible.'

We will review the information that we hold relating to your request and a response will be sent as soon as possible but in any case within 20 working days of the receipt of your request on 31st May 2011.

Yours Sincerely,

Sarina Young
Customer Service Co-Ordinator
British Waterways  |  The Kiln  |  Mather Road  |  Newark  |  NG24 1FB  | Tel:  01636 675740 | Mob:  07785 295 274 | Fax:  01636 705584 |
Follow the BW Customer Service team on Twitter at http://twitter.com/BWCustServ 

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Information Request,

Dear Mr Moore,

I am writing further to your request for information of 30th May and my acknowledgement of 1st June.

To the best of our knowledge, the following is a list of the criminal cases against BW:-

- 2 HSE Prosecutions;
- BW pleaded guilty to the charges;
- BW were fined £87,000 and £100,000; and
- Individual BW officers were not held personally responsible.

- 1 EA Prosecution; and
- Unconditional discharge.

Please however note that we cannot discount the fact that there may have been minor motoring offences over the past 10 years.

If we haven’t reasonably met your expectations in relation to a request for information or you believe we may not have acted in accordance with the above legislation you should write in the first instance to Kelly Radley Head of Customer Relations, 64 Clarendon Road, Watford, Herts WD17 1DA outlining your concerns and asking for a review to be undertaken. Your correspondence will be acknowledged and a review of your case will be undertaken by one of British Waterways’ directors.

Should you remain unsatisfied by the response you receive you are able to contact the Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF www.ico.gov.uk/Global/contact_us.aspx.

Yours Sincerely,

Sarina Young
Customer Service Co-Ordinator
British Waterways  |  The Kiln  |  Mather Road  |  Newark  |  NG24 1FB  | Tel:  01636 675740 | Mob:  07785 295 274 | Fax:  01636 705584 |
Follow the BW Customer Service team on Twitter at http://twitter.com/BWCustServ 

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Dear Information Request,

Thank you for this information – you correctly assumed that minor motoring offences of individual employees were certainly not of interest. I would be grateful for copies of the approved judgments in each of the cases you have listed.

Yours sincerely,

Nigel Moore

Nigel Moore left an annotation ()

Last year the waterways press reported a case that had brought charges, under the Health & Safety regulations, against BW and a sub-contractor following the death of an employee diver. Effectively, it was corporate manslaughter. Robin Evans later reported to the Board the burden of the scathing remarks made by the judge as to the negligence of the BW personnel involved. Naturally, murmurs were made as to proposed improvements in procedure, but the striking aspect however [to me], lay in the apportionment of penalties.

For some years now the Law has concerned itself with corporate responsibility in such cases; in particular addressing the lacunae in equity wherein individuals in the past could escape all penalty for injury arising from negligence, simply because they were officers of a corporation – and the corporation was primarily the body at fault, punishable only through pecuniary penalty.

So nowadays, it is usual in such instances to hold a Director of the company personally liable for the criminal actions/negligence of his company in tandem with the corporate fine. The individual penalty could involve prison and/or a fine on top of the company’s fine.

The second of the cases listed in BW’s answer above is the case that caught my attention. Whereas BW, as the party most at fault, were fined the greatest sum [£100,000] compared with the sub-contracting party, a Director of the sub-contracting company was, in accord with the new legislation, found guilty also, and fined a sum payable personally. My immediate reaction was: how is it that a Director of the sub-contracting company [who bore the least proportion of responsibility] could be fined in circumstances wherein no Director of the more responsible body was held responsible? How can it be equitable when the law is applied [correctly] against those responsible for a small company but not to those responsible for the greater company at most fault? The law should apply equally to all.

I was interested to learn whether the case was anomalous or indicative of a general trend. It appears from the answer that no judge has yet been prepared to apply the law to BW. The result is inevitable – BW employees and their executive body are encouraged to feel immune from prosecution; it would seem in fact that BW officers can, almost literally in the latter case, “get away with murder”.

Perhaps a different slant will be apparent when reading what the judges actually said within the judgments, which is why I have asked for copies of those.

Dear British Waterways Board,

Following silence on this I presume that a new request ought to be made, so will treat this one as answered
and make a follow-up request.

Yours faithfully,

Nigel Moore

Information Request,

Dear Mr Moore,

Thank you for your e-mails about this matter. I have just returned from holiday and picked up your requests.

An acknowledgement of your separate request for copies of the judgements will follow shortly.

Kind regards,

Sarina Young
Customer Service Co-Ordinator
British Waterways  |  The Kiln  |  Mather Road  |  Newark  |  NG24 1FB  | Tel:  01636 675740 | Mob:  07785 295 274 | Fax:  01636 705584 |
Follow the BW Customer Service team on Twitter at http://twitter.com/BWCustServ 

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