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Culpable Homicide Bill voted down in Scottish Parliament

by Niall Christie

Scotland editor

AN MSP’s attempt to change the law around workplace deaths has been voted down in the Scottish Parliament.

On Thursday evening, MSPs voted against the general principles of the Culpable Homicide (Scotland) Bill, which had widespread trade union support, by 26 votes to 89.

Labour’s Claire Baker proposed a new offence of causing death by gross negligence, but the presiding officer and the Scottish government said that her Bill was unworkable as it fell outside the competence of Holyrood.

The Bill intended to allow greater accountability for companies responsible for workplace fatalities, with claims the issue may be considered again following the Holyrood election in May.

Ms Baker said: “Those who have lost loved ones and suffered years pursuing justice deserve to have their voices heard. 

“There have been too many deaths in workplace accidents in Scotland over the past decade, and there is not sufficient deterrent – the current laws are inadequate to ensure prosecution. 

“If culpable homicide can be identified as the cause of the death in the workplace, it should not matter whether that is by the actions of an individual or by a small or large company – the treatment under the law should be equal.” 

The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) has given its support for the Bill, claiming: “It is unacceptable to have workers dying as a result of negligence or recklessness by employers, with little recompense for those left devastated by their loss. This must change.”

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said the Bill was well-intentioned but could lead to prosecutions being challenged in court.

Mr Yousaf said: “Passing bad legislation now could lead to convictions being overturned in future, and that’s not something to be taken lightly.”

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