TfL escapes corporate manslaughter charges over 2011 Kings Cross cyclist death

Deep Lee's ghost bikeThe recent round of inquests into tragic cycling deaths with poor TfL road design in the spotlight prompted me to ask the Crown Prosecution Service for a statement on the accident that tragically killed Deep Lee in Kings Cross two years ago, which they provided today.

Simon Ringrose, Specialist Prosecutor for the CPS Special Crime Division, said:

“I have carefully considered all of the available evidence in relation to the potential criminal liability of Transport for London (TfL) for the death of cyclist Min Joo Lee.

“I have concluded that the evidence does not provide a realistic prospect of convicting TfL for either corporate manslaughter or gross negligence manslaughter in relation to this tragic incident, in which Miss Lee was killed after being hit by a lorry on Gray’s Inn Road in London on 3 October 2011.

“The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act came into force on 6 April 2008 and does not apply in relation to anything done or omitted before this date. Due to the dates of relevant revisions to the road layout prior to this date, I can only consider offences under the common law for gross negligence manslaughter and not under this Act.

“In order to prosecute an individual under the common law the CPS would have to prove that the individual personally owed a duty of care to Miss Lee, that they had breached that duty, that the breach caused her death and that it was grossly negligent so as to amount to a criminal offence.

“To prosecute the company under common law we would have to identify an individual who meets this description, in that they are personally guilty of gross negligence manslaughter, but who could also be proved to be a directing mind of the company.

“Having considered the evidence in this case, we could not identify such an individual, nor that there had been any potential breach of a duty of care, therefore there could be no prosecution.

“In reaching this decision we took into account the fact that other vehicles had stopped in the advanced stop line at the junction, causing Miss Lee to stop behind it, which may have been the reason the lorry driver did not see her. However, the actions of the other drivers cannot be blamed on TfL or prove that there had been a breach of the duty of care.

“I have therefore concluded there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction against TfL for gross negligence manslaughter.

“I extend my sympathies to the family of Miss Min Joo Lee.”

After a long campaign by this website and the community and much work by the police at least we now know formally where we are (the police tipped me off informally a few weeks ago).  The statement is a helpful clarification of how CPS approach the flawed corporate manslaughter laws with respect to roads.   I am not an expert on procedure but this might mean that there is now an inquest by the coroner [UPDATE - inquest date set].

Campaigning to improve the dangerous junctions around Kings Cross for all road users will of course continue and our sympathies again go out to Deep Lee’s family and friends.

About William Perrin

Active in Kings Cross London and founder of Talk About Local, helping people find a voice online, trustee. The Indigo Trust.
This entry was posted in Road Safety in Kings Cross. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to TfL escapes corporate manslaughter charges over 2011 Kings Cross cyclist death

  1. Cllr Paul Braithwaite says:

    This is very disappointing news. I had publicly supported Will’s call for charging TfL with Corporate Manslaughter. The cop out that the design was in situ before 2008 could become a get-out-of-jail card in a number of KIS accidents.

    What’s worse is that the new plan from TfL at the Deep Lee junction that’s about to be consulted on is still really inadequate – in particular with regard to pedestrians.

  2. “The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act came into force on 6 April 2008 and does not apply in relation to anything done or omitted before this date. Due to the dates of relevant revisions to the road layout prior to this date, I can only consider offences under the common law for gross negligence manslaughter and not under this Act.”

    Where does this leave TFL with regard to any future accidents caused by bad design – particularly where they have been warned on court that a design is flawed (obviously I’m referring to Bow Road).

  3. Daniel Zylbersztajn says:

    OK not criminal. Is the family leading a private case, that inaction on established findings have let to a situation in which the mismanaged traffic lay out can be said to have contributed to the scenario, and that its contributory factor by no means can not be excluded or be disregarded. On a corporate moral issue, what is TFL doing now to improve the junction further?

  4. Sophie Talbot says:

    Surely if TfL are warned about a dangerous road layout by recognised agencies after 2008 and continually refuse to act, again within a reasonable time, that must fall under the 2008 Corporate Manslaughter Act? Otherwise they could just leave dangerous junctions as they are forever and a day and get away with… well, manslaughter

  5. AD says:

    Of course Sophie and CamarthenBayWatcher are correct. The Act does apply, irrespective of when the junction was installed. The breach of duty is the failure to address the danger, which obviously occurred (if at all) after commencement.

  6. Andrea says:

    Can you apply for a Judicial Review of the CPS decision? As commenters above have pointed out, the CPS interpretation of the Act makes no sense.

  7. Senior Coroner Ms Mary Hassell issued a Prevention of Future Deaths report to Mayor Boris Johnson and Transport for London in October, over concerns that the design of Cycle Superhighway 2, between Bow and Aldgate, contributed to the deaths in October 2011 and July last year.
    (ES Today:

    http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/mayor-wrong-to-dispute-coroner-over-cycle-safety-9034394.html)

  8. Tom Foot’s account of Min Joo Lee inquest in Isl. Tribune (20 Dec 2013) suggests that an HGV driver cannot reasonably be expected to see if there is a cyclist in the ASZ (2m blindspot) before driving over them, nor for HGV driver to maintain a line ‘straddling two lanes’ – which would have avoided this collision, according to senior collision investigator Sgt Kingston.

  9. Tom Foot’s report (Islington Tribune 20 Dec 2013) of the Min Joo Lee inquest suggests that ASZ for cyclists (and buses and minicabs) in HGV driver’s 2m blind spot is unsafe – because HGV driver cannot reasonably be expected to see cyclists before driving over them, and also HGV driver may reasonably turn / change lanes mid junction even if this causes a collision with a cyclist.

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