Personal injury lawyers call for more realistic jail prospects
Top personal injury lawyers have said a realistic prospect of jail time for top bosses who neglect their safety responsibilities is necessary if the issue is to be taken seriously in Britain's boardrooms.
Commenting after a series of reports implicated BP's London-based global board in cost cutting and mis-management that contributed to the Texas City refinery blast that killed 15, David Urpeth, of the personal injury department of Irwin Mitchell, said:
"Only when you are looking down the barrel of a gun with the prospect of prison at the end of it will this really be taken seriously by directors."
David Urpeth is frustrated that the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Bill currently before parliament fails to deal with the issue of director culpability, instead promising nothing much more than fines on the business.
"While I welcome the Bill, I am disappointed that individual directors will not be held personally liable under the Bill," said David Urpeth.
"Personal liability would focus the minds of directors and ensure that they placed the health and safety of workers and the public at the very top of their companies' agendas. That way, we might see a reduction in tragic but avoidable accidents."