A fault had been discovered at the site 21 months before the crash.The five executives held responsible - three from Railtrack, which later became Network Rail, and two from the engineering company Balfour Beatty - deny manslaughter. They are Alistair Cook, 50, and Sean Fugill, 50, Railtrack London north-east zone asset managers; Keith Lea, 53, a Railtrack track engineer; Anthony Walker, 46, regional director of Balfour Beatty Rail Maintenance Ltd and Nicholas Jeffries, 53, a civil engineer with Balfour Beatty. They also deny further charges under the Health and Safety Act.Balfour Beatty denies a corporate manslaughter charge and Network Rail denies health and safety charges.The Old Bailey heard that the track was in such a poor state on 17 October 2000 that the rail broke into 300 pieces as the 12.10 King's Cross to Leeds express passed over it at 115mph. Mr Lissack said the main focus of the prosecution on the manslaughter charge would be on the defendants' individual involvement in the four and a half months before 17 October.He said the five men had realised there were a large number of defects which should have been repaired. "The only proper way of dealing with the extremely serious situation was to follow the book of rules of what to do when you have defects. Richard Lissack, QC, told the court that the five managers facing manslaughter charges had adopted a "cavalier approach" to safety and "failed very badly" in their duties. The state of the track was such that King's Cross station would have been closed if work had been conducted according to the book.
"All the faults that were overdue for repair were wiped out in the sense that fresh time- limits were brought in to address the backlog which built up."He said all those charged with manslaughter were complicit in that arrangement. But these defendants chose to go outside the rules."Mr Lissack said that in June 2000, Mr Walker and Mr Lea met to discuss "the dreadful state of the east coast mainline southern end and how to deal with the long-outstanding backlog of faults, including this track site" They agreed the "clock" would be turned to zero. The sound of its song (often sung from a fence-post) is described as a-little-bit-of-bread-and-no-cheese. Once common in the countryside, numbers have plummeted because of intensive farming..
RAIL COMPANIES knew nearly two years before the Hatfield train disaster that the rail which caused the crash was defective, the Old Bailey heard yesterday. Nets and spring-loaded traps are also used commonly by the gangs, which are estimated to be snatching 2,000 birds a year between September and April.Finches bred in captivity from lawfully held parent birds can be sold legally only if they are fitted with government- approved closed-rings which means that in some cases criminals are putting counterfeit rings on captured birds in an attempt to disguise their origins.Among the most highly prized are infertile "mules", which are the offspring of wild birds interbred with domestic canaries. Appearing in court charged with dealing in a dodgy finch is not going to have the same drawback to being caught dealing in drugs."Gangs use several methods to trap the birds, such as the use of lime sticks, which involves smearing glue on twigs and bird tables, and using seeds and caged birds as lures When the birds land, they are stuck. The male is a particularly attractive combination of a pale blue cap, a rusty-red breast, and white wing bars.YELLOWHAMMER: The best-known and most colourful of our buntings.