£30m for pier owners after alarm firm's failure
An alarm company has been ordered to pay £30 million in damages to the owners of a historic pier that was destroyed by fire.
The blaze ripped through the Grand Pier in Weston-super-Mare in Somerset in July 2008, causing millions of pounds of damage.
The fire gutted the pier and forced co-owners Kerry and Michelle Michael into a £51 million redevelopment of the site.
The Michaels took legal action against Weston-based System 2 Security and its sub-contractor Yeoman Monitoring Services, saying the two firms failed to respond when alarms first sounded at 1.35am on the day of the fire.
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No 999 calls were made until nearly 7am, by which time the fire had already destroyed much of the landmark.
The claim against Essex-based Yeoman Monitoring Services was settled privately, with no admission of liability, earlier this year. But following a hearing at Bristol Mercantile Court, Judge Mark Havelock-Allan found that System 2 Security had shown a "high degree of negligence".
The judge found "no contributory negligence" on behalf of the Grand Pier Ltd and awarded the company an immediate payment of £30 million plus interest.
However, System 2 Security went into administration three days before the court case began in November, raising questions about whether the pier owners will receive any money.
Mr Michael said he was pleased with the complete vindication of Grand Pier Ltd, its directors and staff, but that he was determined to pursue those responsible.
"There can be no doubt where the blame lies," he said.
The Grade II-listed pier was rebuilt at a cost of £51 million and reopened for business in October 2010.
It now welcomes 3.5 million visitors each year.