London hotel fined £210,000 in fire safety trial
A hotel owner has been fined and ordered to pay costs totalling £262,000 after being found guilty of not complying with fire safety laws.
Chumleigh Lodge Hotel, in Finchley, London, and its sole director, Michael Wilson, had denied 12 offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The defendants were found guilty at Blackfriars Crown Court.
The offences date back to 18 May 2008 when a fire broke out at the hotel. The blaze had spread quickly from a first-floor guest bedroom, up a staircase to the floor above and along a corridor. Three people escaped from the fire, two by using the stairs and a third by climbing out of a second-floor window.
Following the fire, London Fire Brigade fire safety inspectors visited the hotel and raised a number of serious fire safety concerns, including defective fire doors, blocked escape routes and no smoke alarms in some of the hotel's bedrooms. Wilson was also unable to produce a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment and had not provided staff with adequate fire safety training.
Chumleigh Lodge, as the corporate defendant, was fined £30,000 and individual defendant Wilson was fined £210,000. Together they were also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £50,000 and compensation of £2,000 to the guest who had to escape the fire through the second-floor window.
Chairman of London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority Brian Coleman said: "Business owners have a clear responsibility under fire safety law to ensure that both the public and their employees are as safe as possible from the risk of fire. This verdict sends out a clear message that if these responsibilities are ignored, we will not hesitate in prosecuting and people will face serious penalties."
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By Janet Harmer
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