Weston-super-Mare pier fire: Alarm company ordered to pay £30million to Grand Pier owners for 'high degree of negligence'
The owners of the Grand Pier at Weston-super-Mare which was destroyed in a devastating blaze four years ago claimed a “victory for the truth” today after a judge ordered an alarm company to pay them £30m in damages.
Brother and sister Kerry and Michelle Michael conceded they were unlikely ever to receive the money from System 2 Security after it was placed into administration just three days before a hearing at Bristol Mercantile Court.
Judge Mark Havelock-Allan found a “high degree of negligence” against the company which was accused of failing to respond to the early morning fire alarms which first sounded at 1.35am at the North Somerset resort on 28 July 2008.
Emergency services however were not summoned to the blaze until 7am when it was spotted by a member of the public resulting in the virtual destruction of the Grade II listed building.
Mr Michael, who had only owned the building for five months, said he had spent hundreds of thousands pounds on the legal action after seeking to quash “rumours and innuendo” in the wake of the blaze.
“It is a victory in so much as we have got to the truth. In monetary terms it is not a victory because they took it to the wire. We lost a Grade II listed building. It was important to us to have our day in court as to who was to blame,” he said.
“We will continue to pursue the company, its directors, insurers and anyone else that provided advice to System 2 Security before or since the fire,” he added.
The judge found “no contributory negligence” on behalf of the Michaels’ company, Grand Pier Ltd, and awarded an immediate payment of £30m plus interest.
The Michaels have since undertaken a £51m redevelopment of the site, which reopened in October 2010 and now welcomes 3.5m visitors a year.
An investigation by firefighters was unable to pin point the exact cause of the fire blaming it on an electrical fault. Smoke could be seen from the wooden structure up to 10 miles away.
Mr Michael, who previously ran insurance and property businesses before buying the Edwardian pier, said he and his sister had been devastated by the blaze which claimed one of the British seaside’s most cherished landmarks. “It was a surreal time. It was like we were on the outside looking in on someone else’s nightmare.
“Irrespective of how it happened I felt responsible because it happened on my watch. This magnificent structure had stood for 100 years and I had been there for five minutes and it had burnt down. My immediate reaction was to rebuild it.”
Mr Michael said the pier had been rebuilt in concrete and steel and was staffed 24 hours every day. “It is as safe a building as any in the UK,” he said.
A claim against sub-contractors Essex-based Yeoman Monitoring Services was settled privately, with no admission of liability, earlier this year.
David Cogle, the former director of System 2 Security, told the BBC his company had paid more than £100,000 in legal costs. “What it would have cost to fight it would have finished the company off. It was just as easy to retire and let them have judgement,“ he said.
Is your name now 'banned' in Saudi Arabia?
Exclusive: World’s most pristine waters are polluted by US Navy human waste
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Any terrorist seizure of the plane ‘would have required one hell of a piece of planning’
Croatia's second city to close 'worst zoo in the world' after reports of 'nightmare' conditions and 'depressed' animals
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 Q&A by Simon Calder: How far could it have travelled? Who was responsible and what would their plans be? And how can a plane just vanish?
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
The rise of Ukip: Study warns Labour that Eurosceptic party's electoral base now 'more working class than any of the main parties'
Tony Benn was entirely ineffectual - and usually wrong
Europeans have ‘got whiter’ due to natural selection in past 5,000 years, scientists say
- 1 Is your name now 'banned' in Saudi Arabia?
- 2 Exclusive: World’s most pristine waters are polluted by US Navy human waste
- 3 Gender-specific books demean all our children. So the Independent on Sunday will no longer review anything marketed to exclude either sex
- 4 Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 Q&A by Simon Calder: How far could it have travelled? Who was responsible and what would their plans be? And how can a plane just vanish?
- 5 'Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 plane found in Bermuda Triangle!' Viral Facebook links are profiting hackers
£50000 - £60000 per annum: Charter Selection: This well respected and exciting...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Charter Selection: This exciting company and market...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + EXCELLENT SALARY: Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Cli...
£25,000 to £35,000: IT Connections Ltd: Signal Processing Engineer / Acoustics...