PROSECUTORS are considering whether criminal charges could be brought over the Potters Bar rail crash after an inquest concluded that a points failure lay behind the disaster.

Rail regulators were reconsidering the case after the jurors highlighted the fact that failures to inspect or maintain the points led to the disaster, which caused the deaths of seven people.

The Crown Prosecution Service initially ruled out launching criminal proceedings, in 2005, but now said it is considering whether any new information came to light during the seven-week inquest.

It is thought either manslaughter charges, or a criminal case under health and safety laws, could be brought if sufficient new evidence was available.

Judge Michael Findlay Baker QC, sitting as a coroner, also promised to file a report expressing his concern about the risk of future deaths in similar circumstances.

Six passengers - Austen Kark, Emma Knights, Jonael Schickler, Alexander Ogunwusi, Chia Hsin Lin and Chia Chin Wu - were killed in the crash in Hertfordshire on May 10, 2002.

The seventh victim, Agnes Quinlivan, who was walking nearby, died after she was hit by debris.

More than 70 people were also injured when the 12.45pm King's Cross to King's Lynn train crashed as it reached the station of Potters Bar, where it was not due to stop, at around 1pm.

Judge Baker apologised to the bereaved families for the fact it took eight years for the inquest to be held as it concluded yesterday in Letchworth, Hertfordshire.

Following the inquest, an Office of Rail Regulation spokesman said: "We will now proceed to determine whether any criminal proceedings for health and safety offences should be brought in accordance with the Work Related Deaths Protocol."