Cathy Nugent reviews Derailed, BBC1, Tuesday 20 September
This drama-documentary of the Paddington rail disaster didn’t really tell us anything new about that appalling event — most of the facts came out at the public enquiry and were documented in the Cullen Report of the enquiry.
It did however demonstrate in devastating detail exactly who was to blame for the disaster — a culture of corporate disregard for safety and drive for profit among the train operating companies and Railtrack; layers of incompetent and disorganised bureaucracy; individuals who spend their lives enriching shareholders and themselves.
But the asides and the snippets of information, served to tell the real story of corporate greed, and how New Labour let the corporate murderers get away with it.
Gerald Corbett, Railtrack Chief Executive, just after the crash in reaction to the media pressure on the company: “This is very interesting. In a strange way I’m enjoying it. Not many other [Chief Executives] will have gone through something like this.” Thirty-one people have died. This is a unique public relations challenge?
John Prescott rings Gerald Corbett to tell him Railtrack are to be stripped of their safety responsibilities. For Railtrack this is a PR disaster and Corbett is furious. He is especially annoyed that Prescott has told him that he, Corbett, will get a pay-off when he goes, while Prescott will get nothing. That is why Prescott’s reputation must be kept intact. That said, Corbett looked pretty happy at his £800,000 pay-off and new directorship at Woolworths.
During the Cullen Enquiry the leading member of the victims’ relatives and friends group look around the court. The court room is empty. Those media folk who are there are yawning. Meanwhile devastating bits of evidence — the poor visibility around the signal which was passed by the train which caused the crash — are being presented. The Cullen Enquiry is irrelevant. Its recommendations will be ignored.