Sturgeon urged to give work death families more legal power
NICOLA Sturgeon has been urged to give the families of individuals killed by an employer’s gross negligence greater legal powers after it emerged she backed similar legislation in opposition.
The Scottish Government has said it will “consider” plans by Labour MSP Claire Baker to create new legal avenues for the families of victims of fatal workplace accidents.
However, documents show that the First Minister and three serving SNP Cabinet Secretaries – John Swinney, Michael Matheson and Roseanna Cunningham – supported proposals for Holyrood legislation back in 2006.
Ms Baker, a member of Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard’s Shadow Cabinet, last week unveiled plans to amend the law on culpable homicide.
Her consultation stated that, in cases where individuals caused death by recklessness or gross negligence, it is “relatively easy” for the Crown Office to secure a conviction.
But on occasions where medium-sized or larger companies cause a death she argued that it remains “extremely difficult” to secure a conviction of corporate culpable homicide.
She believes firms, and their directors, should be held accountable for any wrongdoing.
“It is only right that, as well as the company being guilty, the individuals whose action led to the company’s guilt can be convicted and sentenced appropriately,” her document stated.
Her planned Bill comes 11 years after the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act was passed by MPs in 2007.
The legislation clarified the criminal liabilities of companies and, in cases where serious health and safety failures led to workplace fatalities, made prosecutions easier. However, critics were underwhelmed as the legislation did not apply to directors personally.
Ms Baker’s consultation said of the UK law: “The law of culpable homicide has always failed to have one clear set of rules that apply to all wrongdoers, individuals and organisations alike. Many hoped that would be achieved by the 2007 Act but it has failed entirely in that objective.”
At the time that the UK proposal was under discussion, former Labour MSP Karen Gillon consulted on Scottish-only legislation in 2006.
Ms Gillon abandoned the plan amid a legal wrangle, but her far- reaching proposals, which are in line with what Ms Baker is backing, secured the support of dozens of MSPs.
Fifteen Nationalists supported Ms
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was supportive of proposals for legislation back in 2006