Sensible Sentencing applauds Justice Sir Grant Hammond
Sensible Sentencing supports and applauds Justice Sir Grant Hammond
The Sensible Sentencing Trust is very pleased to offer its support to Law Commission President Justice Sir Grant Hammond’s plea to kill a government proposal to remove all accountability for negligent public servants whose actions or inactions cause grave harm.
As Sir Grant has noted, if this change occurs, it would prevent any unfortunate victims such as Susan Couch – who survived William Bell’s murderous rampage at the Panmure RSA in 2001 – from suing a government department whose employees’ negligence had caused or contributed to grave harm, injury, or death.
“As Sir Grant says, prior to a Supreme Court decision in 2010 such negligent employees had an indemnity from the department which employed them – meaning the employees were not personally liable – but not an immunity” said Trust Spokesman Garth McVicar “the department could be sued, but not the employee”.
“The proposed change would mean departments which employed grossly negligent or even malicious public servants who caused serious harm in the course of their work could never be held to account “Mr. McVicar said.
“This would put us completely out of step with Britain, where a department can face very serious sanctions in Court, and the United States, where in some cases the officials are personally liable, even to the extent of being imprisoned if the lapse is spectacularly bad”.
“Far from there being less accountability, we would like to see more. “
“In the Susan Couch case, the probation officer whose negligence was found by the Court of Appeal to be directly linked to Ms Couch’s injuries was never held to account – she wasn’t even named, and still enjoys the benefit of name suppression”.
“Justice Hammond says the law should be as it was before the 2010 Supreme Court case, with the department but not the individual employee liable for the consequences of negligence or misfeasance. Sensible Sentencing would go further, and says that an employee who was grossly negligent should be held personally responsible for his or her failures”.
“If this law change goes ahead, public employees can be as useless and uncaring as they like, safe in the knowledge that neither they nor their employer would ever be held to account” said McVicar.