Three Warwickshire fire service managers are making their first court appearances on charges of manslaughter by gross negligence after four firefighters died in a warehouse fire in Atherstone-on-Stour in November 2007.

Paul Verrico, Associate and Solicitor-Advocate at international law firm Eversheds, comments:


"While the prosecutions of the three fire chiefs will hit the headlines, it is important not to miss the implications arising from the wider investigation, in which 13 firefighters and service managers were arrested in connection with the deaths. It would be improper to comment on the evidence in the case before pleas are even entered but the fact that it took until 2011 for the CPS to decide to charge Paul Simmons, Adrian Ashley and Timothy Woodward should not be lost on the wider business community. All those interviewed in connection with the deaths will have had a very uncomfortable wait to find out if they were going to be charged.

"Any investigation involving a tragedy such as that which unfolded in the warehouse at Atherstone in 2007 must be handled properly and evidence must, of course, be gathered carefully and analysed systematically. Nevertheless, for it to take over four years for the CPS to bring the case to court is unacceptable both to the families of the deceased and those suspected of being involved in their deaths. In our experience, delays of this magnitude are not unusual. Recent changes to the Work Related Death Protocol are aimed at reducing the delay in bringing cases to court and it is hoped that long waits of this nature should significantly reduce in the future."


Posted November 25th, 2011 at 1110 by Andrew. Comment by emailing: