Corporate killer must not evade punishment, MSP demands
Bill Wilson, MSP for the West of Scotland region, today lodged a Parliamentary Motion congratulating the authors of the recently released independent report on the ICL/Stockline disaster in Glasgow. The Motion also called for the Scottish Government to adopt legislation to ensure that those responsible for industrial accidents and other serious health and safety offences be effectively punished.
The report referred to in Dr Wilson’s Motion, dated 31 August 2007 and titled The ICL/Stockline Disaster: An Independent Report on Working Conditions Prior to the Explosion, catalogues the negligence and mismanagement that lead to the explosion in the ICL/Stockline plastics factory on May 11, 2004, in which 40 people were injured and nine killed.
Dr Wilson said the report had made a number of excellent points and that he had already supported a Parliamentary Motion calling for a review of the way the Scottish court system handled industrial accident-related cases. His aim in lodging the new motion today, however, was to draw particular attention to the equity fines system developed by lawyers in the USA mentioned in the report. He explained, “Simply fining a company whose negligence has resulted in the deaths and injury of employees, is not good enough. As the report says, the cost of fines may even be passed on to workers! On the other hand, the equity fines system, developed by lawyers in the USA, would appear to effectively target guilty parties.”
Dr Wilson went on to outline what such an equity fines system would entail: “Courts would order offending companies to issue a quota of new shares. These would then be administered by a state-controlled compensation fund. This, according to the report, would punish those that benefit the most from corporate offending (owners and shareholders), greatly improving corporate criminal accountability and avoiding the redistribution of corporate punishments to the most vulnerable.”
Dr Wilson concluded his remarks by saying, “I very much hope the Scottish Government will act on this and other recommendations made in the report. There is an argument for the deregulation of business, but this should not be at the cost of human lives. Lessons must be learnt from the suffering of the victims of the ICL/Stockline disaster and their families. No one should experience such horror again.”
1. Full text of motion
Date of Lodging: 4 September 2007
Short Title: ICL/Stockline Disaster Report: Equity Fines
S3M-00410 Bill Wilson (West of Scotland) (SNP): That the Parliament congratulates the authors of the recently published document entitled The ICL/Stockline Disaster: An Independent Report on Working Conditions Prior to the Explosion; notes, in particular, the mention of the equity fines system developed by lawyers in the United States of America, a system that punishes those who benefit the most from corporate offending, owners and shareholders, and avoids the redistribution of corporate punishments to the most vulnerable groups, such as employees, and calls on the Scottish Government to investigate the feasibility of incorporating this and other aspects of the report into Scottish law.
2. Full text of earlier motion supported by Dr Wilson
Short Title: Review of Court Procedure in Relation to Industrial Accidents
S3M-352 Robin Harper (Lothians) (Green): That the Parliament welcomes the imminent implementation of legislation to create an offence of corporate manslaughter; recognises the further pain and heartache inflicted on the families of men and women killed or injured in industrial accidents through delays in court proceedings, and calls on the Scottish Executive to review the processes of the Scottish court system with the aim of removing all impediments and restraints on the swift and efficient administration of justice in relation to industrial accidents.