... (the taxpayer)is the main contributor in some cases of corporate negligence - monies given to the companies themselves and to directors to pay for their defence against charges brought. A prime example is the case reproduced here from the Trades Union Congress website - click here TC.
Hatfield rail firms given £21m costs.
The two companies fined over the Hatfield rail crash have been handed £21 million of taxpayers' money to pay for their defence costs - £7 million more than their record penalties last year. Four people died and 102 were injured in the crash in October 2000 when a King's Cross to Leeds express derailed at 115mph. The money has been given to Balfour Beatty, the engineering company, and Network Rail [formerly Railtrack] to pay for defending themselves against manslaughter and health and safety charges - accusations on which they were cleared. The two companies, which applied for their costs to be reimbursed, were handed record fines totalling £13.5 million in October 2005 after being convicted of other health and safety offences (Risks 228). The disclosure of the payments was made by the government following a request under the Freedom of Information Act. The Department for Constitutional Affairs said: 'The cost paid from Central Funds (taxpayers' money) for the defence of the accused was £20.9 million. None of the defendants were legally aided, and the judge ordered their costs to be paid from central funds. This was, however, only in relation to the manslaughter and health and safety charges that they were found not guilty on.' DCA added: 'The two companies were not refunded their costs on the charges for which they were found guilty. Therefore, they bore that cost in addition to the total fines of £13.5 million and costs of £600,000 that the court imposed.' Balfour Beatty was fined £10 million plus £300,000 costs and Network Rail £3.5 million plus £300,000 costs. John Pickering, the solicitor representing the four victims of Hatfield and some of the survivors, said: 'There seems to be a disconnection between the level of the penalties and the level of the costs they are recovering. It's hard to understand the logicality or the morality of this award.'