Belfast fire was `an accident'

The fire which gutted part of Parliament Buildings in Belfast was most likely caused by an electrical fault, investigators said last night. The start of the blaze which caused £1.5m of damage, was traced to wiring behind the Speaker's Chair in the Commons Chamber. They said there was no sign of arson and that there were no fire alarms or sprinkler system in use at the time of the fire.

The disclosure that the blaze was an accident came as Sir Patrick Mayhew, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, announced the setting up of an independent inquiry into the blaze.