Lakanal House fire victims' families sue council, contractor and fire brigade PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 04 April 2013 17:44

The families of the six people who died in the Lakanal House fire are taking legal action against Southwark Council, the London Fire Brigade and the council's contractor Apollo for compensation.

The legal action follows the conclusion last month of the Coroner's inquest into the deaths at the council-owned block of flats in 2009, when a fire in one of the flats spread to other parts of the building before some of the residents had the opportunity to escape.

A jury last week recorded narrative verdicts on the deaths of the six tenants, but criticised a number of failings by the council, its contractor and the fire brigade.

These included the council's failure to conduct fire safety checks at the building, the fire brigade's initial advice to some of the trapped 999 callers to stay inside their flats and the inappropriateness of some of the materials used when the block was refurbished some years earlier.

The coroner, Frances Kirkham, sent rule 43 letters to the council, the fire brigade and the Department for Communities and Local Government containing a series of recommendations.

None of the three organisations have accepted liability for the deaths, although Southwark Council did issue an apology to the families following the coroner's verdict.

In May 2012, the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to bring charges of corporate manslaughter against the council over the failure to carry out fire safety checks. It said there was “insufficient evidence to satisfy a jury” that the council's conduct at a senior management level amounted to a gross breach of duty causing any of the deaths.

The victims of the fire were Dayana Francisquini, 26, and her six and three-year-old children Thais, and Felipe; Helen Udoaka, 34, and her three-week-old daughter Michelle and 31-year-old Catherine Hickman. All lived on the 11th floor of the building.