No fatal accident inquiry into 2017 Cameron House Hotel fire

Richard Dyson and Simon Midgley
Richard Dyson and Simon Midgley (PA Media)
22:33pm, Mon 19 Apr 2021
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The mother of a man killed alongside his partner in a fire at a five-star hotel has said she is “very upset and angry” and will appeal against a decision not to hold a fatal accident inquiry.

Simon Midgley, 32, and Richard Dyson, 38, were unlawfully killed when flames engulfed the Cameron House Hotel on the banks of Loch Lomond on December 18 2017, a coroner in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, concluded last Wednesday.

In January, the hotel operator was fined £500,000 and a night porter was given a community payback order after he disposed of embers in a cupboard, sparking the fatal blaze.

The Scottish Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) said on Monday evening it had decided not to hold a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) – the equivalent of an inquest – after “a thorough investigation and criminal prosecution leading to the conviction of two parties”.

Mr Midgley’s mother Jane told the PA news agency she would appeal against the decision, saying: “I’m very upset and angry about it. We need an FAI, it’s 100% in the public interest.”

She added she was “absolutely speechless” at the punishments over the fire handed out earlier this year, adding: “There’s no way I’m going away.”

A COPFS statement said: “The purpose of an FAI is to determine the cause of death and to establish what lessons can be learned for the future in order to minimise the risk of future deaths in similar circumstances.

“Crown Counsel are satisfied that the reasons for this tragedy have been established and that the circumstances of the deaths were publicly identified during the prosecution process.”

Cameron House Hotel fire (PA Media)

Labour MSP Jackie Baillie pledged her support to Mrs Midgley in her appeal after speaking to her on Monday evening.

She said: “Whilst guilt may have been established by the courts, there are clearly lessons to be learned about fire safety that may well require a change in law.

“Several warnings were issued to the hotel that appear to have been ignored and staff training was completely inadequate.

“It is critical that we prevent this from happening again and an FAI is an important part of that process.”

More than 200 guests were evacuated from the building during the fire, including a family of two adults and a child who were rescued by ladder and taken to hospital. They were later discharged.

On January 22, Cameron House Resort (Loch Lomond) Ltd, owner and operator of the hotel, admitted failing to take the fire safety measures necessary to ensure the safety of employees and guests, breaching the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005.

It was fined £500,000 at Dumbarton Sheriff Court on the same day.

Night porter Christopher O’Malley, 35, was ordered to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work after he emptied ash and embers from a fuel fire into a polythene bag and placed it in a cupboard which contained kindling and newspapers.

Mrs Midgley told the Wakefield inquest that her son, who ran his own travel PR and journalism business, phoned her from the hotel on December 17 saying the couple were “having a fabulous time”.

She told the court he said: “I’m drowning in dreams, mother dear. And I promise you life is going to be good from now on.”

Mrs Midgley, from Pudsey, Leeds, said her son told her: “I’m so looking forward to spending Christmas with you. Don’t forget my pigs-in-blankets.”

Mr Dyson’s father Roger, from Wetherby, West Yorkshire, told the coroner his family also wanted a fatal accident inquiry.

He said his son, who was an assistant TV director, was a “gentle, loving person who was living life and loving life”.

He told the inquest he thought the fine handed to the hotel company was “derisory”.

Alistair Duncan, head of health and safety investigations at COPFS, said: “COPFS appreciates the impact the fire has had on the families and friends of Mr Dyson and Mr Midgley and many other people who were at the hotel that night.

“The nearest relatives of those who lost their lives have been provided with detailed reasons for the decision not to hold an FAI and our thoughts are with them at this time.”

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