Fire-risk inquiry at 'taxpayer palaces'

AN INDEPENDENT inquiry has been ordered into fire precautions at all the royal palaces for which the Government is financially responsible.

Peter Brooke, Secretary of State for National Heritage, told the Commons of the decision yesterday amid questions about the adequacy of the one and a half page report of the Royal Berkshire Fire Brigade into the blaze at Windsor Castle.

The inquiry is expected to take several months and assess fire prevention measures at Windsor, Buckingham Palace, Clarence House, Kensington Palace, St James's Palace, Hampton Court, Kew Palace, the Tower of London and Banqueting House. The head of the inquiry is likely to be announced later this week.

Clarence House is the official residence of the Queen Mother and Kensington Palace the official residence of the Prince and Princess of Wales. Hampton, Kew, the Tower and Banqueting House are administered by the Historic Royal Palaces Agency.

The inquiry will only cover palaces where the taxpayer stands to pick up the bill for fire damage and not the royal family's private homes, such as Sandringham.

A report released last Friday by Buckingham Palace concluded that the Windsor fire was caused by a spotlight overheating a curtain and that no individual was to blame. But at question time yesterday, Ann Clwyd, Labour's heritage spokeswoman, pointed to the brevity of the report.

'The public believe that the report has been doctored and that the real report lies elsewhere,' she said. 'Why doesn't Mr Brooke publish the truth about this fire and not simply expect the public to foot a bill of up to pounds 60m without actually having its questions answered?'

Mr Brooke said the fire report, produced by a five-strong team of fire officers, police and forensic experts, was unanimous in its conclusions. He said no estimate could be made of the cost of restoration until the damaged areas had been surveyed and a decision taken on the form of the restoration. The pounds 60m figure had been 'generated by the media'.

Avoiding being drawn into the debate over whether the gutted state rooms should be restored or make way for a contemporary design, Mr Brooke told MPs: 'I hope that out of the fire and the scar which it leaves will emerge a reconstruction which commends widespread admiration and a sense of national achievement.'

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Twelve of the winning bidders will each host three group matches
football
Life and Style
Jack Cooksey goes for the grand unveiling - moments before dropping his new iPhone 6 on the floor
iphone launch
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Primary Supply Teacher - Loughborough

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Are you a Teacher looking fo...

Primary General Cover Teachers

Negotiable: Randstad Education Leicester: Are you a Newly Qualified Teacher lo...

Part Time Primary Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Part Time Primary TeacherOur...

Science Technician

£7 - £8 per hour: Randstad Education Cheshire: The Job:School Science Technici...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week