Devastated mum 'cannot and will not' accept failings that led to Worksop-born son's death in Scottish hotel fire

“I used to hear people say day-to-day ‘my heart's broken’ and think, what does that mean? And my god, do I know now what it truly means to be heartbroken.”

By Sophie Wills
Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 4:23 pm
Updated Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 4:25 pm

It’s been more than three years since the unthinkable tragedy that changed Jane Midgley’s life forever.

When it comes to grief, time affords closure and sometimes even acceptance.

But Jane says she cannot and will not ever accept the circumstances leading up to her son Simon’s death in 2017.

Jane Midgley with son Simon in happier times. She says she will not give up fighting for justice for Simon and his boyfriend Richard, who were unlawfully killed in a hotel fire in Scotland in 2017.

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘he was a young lad with everything going for him’, but this really was the case with Simon Midgley.

A former Portland School pupil, at 32 he was already running his own PR firm and working as a freelance journalist for the Evening Standard in London.

Simon adored Christmas, and in December 2017 whisked boyfriend Richard Dyson up to Scotland for a winter break.

The loved-up pair took in the sights of Glasgow’s George Square and the Necropolis before heading up to a five-star hotel in Loch Lomond.

Phoning mum Jane on December 17, Simon told her he was ‘drowning in dreams’, looking forward to spending Christmas with her and that ‘everything was going to be good from now on’.

That night a fire broke out at Cameron House Hotel after a night porter left a bucket of ashes in a cupboard.

As the hotel was engulfed in flames and more than 200 guests fled, Simon and Richard went missing inside for 80 minutes.

They couple were prounounced dead after being found in fire exits, trying to escape.

“I’m still in shock, three years on,” said Jane, 60. “Every day is like the first day.

"Simon had so many dreams for the future. He had this incredible zest for life that I can’t put into words.

"To meet him briefly was to then feel like you had known him all your life.”

An inquest into the deaths of Simon and Richard in April found that they had been unlawfully killed.

The hotel was fined £500,000 with night porter Christopher O’Malley given a community payback order after admitting fire safety offences.

It wasn’t enough for Jane and her hopes of justice were shattered further when she was told there would be no Fatal Accident Inquiry.

According to the Crown Office, an FAI is not needed because the circumstances of how the two men died has been determined.

"How am I supposed to accept that?” said Jane. “Someone left burning ashes in a cupboard, which to anyone with basic common sense would be dangerous, and it cost my son and his partner their lives.

Jane said she will continue to campaign for an FAI so that ‘reccomendations become law’ and lives can be saved.

"Nothing will bring my boys back now,” she said. “But it’s not about them anymore. It’s about protecting other people. I will not stop fighting on Simon’s behalf.

"You never know what’s happening behind closed doors in hotels, and this is all the more important as the economy awakens again and people flock to them for holidays after the pandemic.

"I’d do anything to prevent the suffering my family and I have been through. I will not give up.”

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