As expected, the Office of Rail Regulation has decided to drop its prosecution against Jarvis over the Potters Bar accident. Network Rail, which has pleaded guilty, is left to take the rap, even though it was its predecessor, Railtrack which was responsible at the time of the accident in 2002.
In a way, this is entirely sensible. Jarvis went bust and only its administrators remain. However, ORR knew this when it announced the prosecution last year, and so what has prompted its change of mind? Well, in the press release, the ORR says that while ‘there remains sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction of Jarvis,it has decided to drop the prosecution because ‘Jarvis’s administrator’s have advised that they would take no part in any proceedings’ ,that a trial would cost money, and the families have said it would be pointless. Well the last two points would have been known in advance, so essentially the ORR is dropping the trial because Jarvis have said they will not turn up.
That’s a great precedent. Threatening not to turn up is hardly any sort of defence and let’s hope that defendants at the Old Bailey don’t start to use it successfully! In truth, the whole thing was daft from the outset. Proecuting one bankrupt firm and one defunct organisation made no sense whatsoever. The ORR seems to have a knack of getting it wrong on every occasion. The prosecution against NR, which will result in some ridiculous fine, was equally daft.
Worse, the families of the victims have now gone nine years without finding out what happened and clearly never will because of the incompetence of the investigating authorities in the aftermath of the accident, who allowed Jarvis to shred evidence and hide behind legal technicalities.