Inquiry to be held into death of Worksop-born journalist in Scotland hotel fire

A fatal accident inquiry is to be held into a hotel fire which claimed the lives of a Worksop-born journalist and his partner after an earlier Scottish Crown Office decision against one was overturned.

Thursday, 17th June 2021, 11:13 am

Simon Midgley, 32, and Richard Dyson, 38, who lived together in north London, died in the blaze at the five-star Cameron House Hotel on the banks of Loch Lomond on December 18, 2017.

Hotel operator Cameron House Resort Ltd was fined £500,000 and a night porter was given a community payback order over the fire at a hearing at Dumbarton Sheriff Court in January this year.

A former Portland School pupil working a freelance journalist for the Evening Standard, Simon told his family he was ‘drowning in dreams’ the night before his tragic death.

Jane Midgley pictured with her son Simon.

The Crown Office previously decided the circumstances surrounding the deaths had been established and that public interest would not be further served by a fatal accident inquiry (FAI).

But after Simon’s mum, Jane Midgley, demanded a re-evaluation of that decision, an independent Crown Office review concluded an FAI should be held.

Jane told the Guardian: “Nothing will bring my boys back now. But it’s not about them anymore. It’s about protecting other people. I will not stop fighting on Simon’s behalf.”

A Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service spokesman 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.

“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.”

Dumbarton Sheriff Court heard in January that the blaze started after night porter Christopher O’Malley emptied ash and embers from a fuel fire into a polythene bag and placed it in a cupboard which contained combustibles.

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

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 between January 14 2016 and December 18 2017.

The company admitted two charges of breaching the Fire Act 2005.

O’Malley admitted breaching sections of health and safety laws which relate to the obligation on an employee to take reasonable care for the health and safety of people affected by their acts or omissions at work.

The 35-year-old was sentenced to a community payback order, supervised for 18 months, with 300 hours of unpaid work.

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