Fatal Accident Inquiry to be held into Cameron House Hotel fire which killed two guests following independent Crown Office review

A Fatal Accident Inquiry is to be held into the Cameron House Hotel fire which claimed the lives of two guests, following an independent Crown Office review.

Wednesday, 16th June 2021, 1:54 pm

Simon Midgley, 32, and his partner Richard Dyson, 38, were killed when the fire engulfed the luxury hotel Loch Lomond in December 2017.

Dumbarton Sheriff Court fined Cameron House Hotel £500,000 earlier this year and porter Christopher O’Malley was sentenced to community service after pleading guilty to breaches of health and safety after he disposed of embers in a cupboard, sparking the fatal blaze.

Mr Midgley’s mother, Jane, said previously she would fight for a FAI “in the public interest” after it was initially ruled out by the Crown Office because they said the circumstances of their deaths had already been established.

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Richard Dyson, left, and Simon Midgley died in the fire at Cameron House.
Richard Dyson, left, and Simon Midgley died in the fire at Cameron House.

But a full review of this decision was carried out by Crown Counsel with no previous involvement in the original decision-making process. The families have been told about the outcome of this review.

A Crown Office spokesperson said: “This was a devastating fire which caused two deaths and put the lives of many others at risk.

“During two prosecutions, information on the causes and circumstances of the deaths of Mr Midgley and Mr Dyson were presented in court. Meaningful changes have been made and lessons have been learned from the events.

“Nonetheless, a review by independent Crown Counsel with no previous involvement in this case has concluded that there are wider public interest issues around the safety of guests and building fire safety which ought to feature in a Fatal Accident Inquiry.

CCTV from 03:52 to 06:27 Monday 18 December 2017 showing Christopher O’Malley emptying ash into a refuse bag and placing it in the concierge cupboard and the subsequent start of the fire. Courtesy of Crown Office.

“The Procurator Fiscal has now started work to initiate this inquiry and there are a number of legal steps which must be taken before it can commence. The detailed work carried out in the preparation of the prosecutions will be invaluable in this process.

“The families will be kept informed of what will happen next.”

Last year, review of prosecutorial and FAI decisions was requested 190 times and an original decision was overturned in 10 percent of those instances. The Crown Office says the presence of a right to review ensures the robustness of their processes.

Scottish Labour deputy leader and MSP for Dumbarton, Jackie Baillie, said: “This is a welcome development and will come as a relief to the families involved.

An aerial photograph of Cameron House following the fire. Courtesty of Crown Office.

“The Cameron House fire was one of the greatest tragedies I have had to deal with in my time as MSP for Dumbarton.

“Justice must be done for the families of Simon Midgley and Richard Dyson and all the facts of the case must be brought to light.

“We must ensure that lessons are learned from this tragic event and that such a catastrophe is not repeated.”

Warnings

During the blaze at Cameron House on December 18, 2017, more than 200 guests were evacuated from the building including a family of two adults and a child who were rescued by ladder and taken to hospital in Glasgow.

Dumbarton Sheriff Court heard that the fire started after the porter emptied ash and embers from a hotel fireplace into a polythene bag and placed it in a cupboard which contained combustibles including kindling and newspapers. He pleaded guilty to safety violations which led to the death of guests Mr Midgley and Mr Dyson.

Cameron House Resort (Loch Lomond) Ltd admitted it failed to take the fire safety measures necessary to ensure the safety of employees and guests.

Independent inspections and a Scottishsh Fire and rescue Service annual audit carried out in 2017 told the hotel not to store kindling and newspapers in the concierge’s cupboard, and a letter was sent to management just weeks before the blaze - but the hotel did nothing.

CCTV footage showed O’Malley running about before flames and smoke from the concierge cupboard started to fill the hallway, at around 6.40am that morning. He tried to fight the fire along with a night manager and another member of staff but they were overcome by the flames and the hotel alarm was sounded,.

When firefighters arrived they found a well developed fire but the manager had not taken the guest register or evacuation bag with him when they left and a firefighter had to retrieve them.

It was after 8am when it was discovered Mr Dyson and Mr Midgley were missing.

Firefighters found Mr Dyson on a landing at the top of the staircase, and Mr Midgley was lying by a nearby door but pronounced dead at the scene. Mr Dyson was taken to hospital where doctors tried to save him but they were unsuccessful.

The couple, from London, were both freelance journalists and had checked into the hotel on Saturday, December 16 and had planned to leave on the Monday.

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