The system of product recalls in this country is in complete disarray.
Recall UK estimate that between 1.5 and two million dangerous household appliances have been recalled by major manufacturers since 2011. They estimate that more than one million of those products have never been found. Dishwashers, fridge freezers and tumble dryers have been causing hundreds of fires up and down the country.
For me, the battle to highlight the failings in the system is personal. The 13th November will be a day I dread for the rest my life. This was the date in 2010 that I discovered my son Richard and his friend Kevin dead from the effects of Carbon Monoxide poisoning, at a home they shared in Saltash, Cornwall. Those mental images will haunt me for the rest of my life.
The effect on me and my wife was so traumatic, it resulted in both of us taking early retirement. At the time nothing in life seemed important anymore, we had just lost our youngest son in the prime of his life and everything else was of little consequence. Richard was a very laid back person, very gentle, very friendly and a person who loved his music and playing the guitar. Both he and Kevin had a huge circle of friends. This was evident at their funeral when the church was overflowing.
When the police informed us that their deaths might be linked to their cooker it was unbelievable, we were devastated. It had never entered our thoughts that the cooker could in some way be responsible, because we had bought it for Richard in November 2008. We were later informed the grill door of the cooker had been shut while the grill was on. This caused huge emissions of carbon monoxide which resulted in the death of Richard and Kevin. Who would have thought shutting something as simple as a grill door could cause the death of two healthy lads? The cooker was a Flavel Milano 50 ML5NDS, manufactured by Beko, the UK's most popular producer of household appliances.
Shortly afterwards it was discovered that this particular gas cooker had been the subject of recall notices due to their faulty design and needed an urgent modification. Unfortunately we never saw these recall notices. At the same time we learnt that this particular type of cooker was still being sold by retailers, even after the recall notices had been issued by Beko.
It is my firm belief that had we seen Beko's recall notices Richard and Kevin would still be alive today.
Since the deaths of our sons, my wife and I have become firm friends with Kevin’s mum, Denise. Together it has been our goal to raise the awareness of the devastating effects of carbon monoxide poisoning. We are also trying to get present laws amended and new legislation introduced so no other families experience what we have gone through.
Beko complied with all the current requirements in terms of recalling the faulty cookers. We therefore want to ensure that the recall system is not left in the hands of the manufacturers, but to appoint an independent advisor to oversee the process. RecallUK have developed a four step product recall improvement plan which would the be the logical way ahead and I fully support it.
While the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the government department with ultimate responsibility for recalls, say they are satisfied with the current system, I refuse to stand by and watch one more family endure the heartbreak of losing a family member to one of these silent killing machines.
Beko have not admitted liability for any of the deaths. Coroners have ruled that the deaths were accidents. A spokesperson for Beko said: "We deeply regret the incidents involving a limited number of our models and unreservedly and sincerely apologise to everyone who has been affected. Beko's highest priority is the safety of our customers. Beko is just one of many manufacturers to have launched product recalls in recent years. In addition, Beko's success rate in finding affected models is 3-4 times greater than the industry average of 10-20%, as reported by the Electrical Safety Council. We continue to work hard to identify the outstanding affected appliances. It is important to avoid confusing and panicking the public and to reassure them that all the Beko affected products referred to are no longer in production."
How Safe is Your Kitchen? airs on Thursday at 7.30pm on ITV
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