Liability action on mansion fire

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The National Trust has begun a High Court action against a firm of sub-contractors which it says is liable for a blaze that gutted a 17th-century mansion.

Uppark House on the Sussex Downs at South Harting was nearly destroyed in August 1989.

The fire started after two workmen, who had been using an oxyacetylene torch on the roof during re-leading work, left their posts for a tea break.

Their employer, Haden Young Ltd, of High Street, Southgate, north London, has admitted causation and negligence but denies it is liable for the cost of restoration, which has yet to be determined.