Parents arrested on suspicion of murder after Derby house fire that killed six of their children

Mr Philpott was earlier praised by police for his 'valiant' attempts to rescuehis sleeping children

Police investigating the deaths of six children in an arson attack on their home have arrested their parents on suspicion of murder.

Mick Philpott and his wife, Mairead, were detained early yesterday morning at an address in Derby city centre following the blaze at their semi-detached house earlier this month.

All six children, aged between five and 13, were asleep at the time of the attack which happened in the early hours of 11 May. Police say petrol was used to start the blaze.

Jade Philpott, 10, and brothers John, nine, Jack, seven, Jessie, six, and Jayden, five, all died of smoke inhalation during the blaze. Their elder brother Duwayne, 13, died in the intensive care unit of Birmingham Children's Hospital two days later.

Mr Philpott, 55, an unemployed father of 17 children from several different relationships, has given numerous newspaper and television interviews after becoming a symbol of Britain's so-called benefits culture. He was dubbed "Shameless Mick" over his demands to be rehoused by his local authority and following appearances on The Jeremy Kyle Show. Shortly before the fire, he had been living at the property with Mairead, 31, and his girlfriend, with whom he had four children.

Neighbours in Victory Road in Allenton, Derby, expressed their dismay at the arrests. Mr Philpott was earlier praised by police for making "valiant" attempts to rescue the sleeping children.

The fire led to outpourings of support for the Philpotts. The couple made a brief appearance at a news conference during which they both wept uncontrollably. Mr Philpott thanked emergency services and well-wishers before announcing that Duwayne's organs had been donated for transplant.

He said the thought of helping another child "makes us happy and it takes a bit of the pain away".

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Cotterill of Derbyshire Police called on anyone with further information to come forward. "I would urge anyone who may have been holding back, not felt comfortable to voice their concerns or not had the confidence, to do so now.

Police have stressed the complex nature of the investigation. A caravan and a minivan believed to have been used as overspill accommodation at the house have already been taken away by investigators. The force said forensic examinations were continuing at the house where hundreds of flowers and toys have been laid in tribute to the victims.

Among the lines of inquiry police investigated was whether anyone had a grudge against the family or if it was linked to Mr Philpott's celebrity. Mr Cotterill said that the family was so notorious it would have been known there were a large number of children in the house.

Two people arrested on suspicion of murder the day after the fire were later released without charge.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...