Christopher O’Malley admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act.

By Democrat reporter

The owner of five star Cameron House Hotel on Loch Lomondside has been fined £500,000 over a fire which killed two men at the luxury resort.

Journalists Simon Midgley, 38, and his partner Richard Dyson, 32, died after the blaze at the five-star hotel at Duck Bay, Arden, on December 18, 2017.

The fire started after a night porter left ashes and smouldering embers from an open fire in a plastic bag inside a cupboard which contained combustibles including kindling and newspapers.

Cameron House Resort (Loch Lomond) Ltd., the owner and operator of the hotel, has also admitted health and safety failings and was fined half-a-million pounds at Dumbarton Sheriff Court today (Friday).  The fine would have been £750,000 had it not been for the company’s guilty plea, the Sheriff said.

Night porter Christopher O’Malley, who admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act, was given a community payback order, told to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work and will be supervised for 18 months.

Sheriff William Gallacher told O’Malley, 35, he was not being sent to prison because the fire wasn’t started deliberately and he had not been given proper training to dispose of the ashes.

He added: “Your acts on December 18 caused a fire to start in a cupboard in Cameron House Hotel.

“The fire developed from that cupboard and spread to many parts of the building, which had to be evacuated.

“Some guests managed to do that with relative ease, some found it more difficult crawling along corridors to avoid smoke, others had to be rescued by ladder, no doubt some of those who experienced these traumatic events will remember it for a long time to come.

“Two others were unable to escape from the fire and tragically lost their lives.”

TV producer Mr Midgley, from West Yorkshire, died at the scene of the fire, which began just after 6.30am. Mr Dyson, a 32-year-old freelance journalist from Nottingham, was taken to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, where he was pronounced dead.

More than 200 guests were evacuated from the building, including a family of two adults and a child who were rescued from the second-floor.

The hotel remains closed for refurbishment and is expected to reopen in the second half of this year after refurbishment costing an estimated £25 million.

  • Other extensive coverage of the Cameron House fire and local reaction to it appears in earlier editions of The Dumbarton Democrat.

Journalists Simon Midgley and Richard Dyson who died in the fire.
Meanwhile, Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie, whose constituency includes Cameron House Hotel, said after the end of the case: “This has been a tragic case which has taken three years to conclude.
“The families of Simon Midgley and Richard Dyson – the two men who died in the fire – have been forced to repeatedly relive the horrors and heartbreak of the fatal night in order to fight for answers as to why their loved ones died.”

The MSP has called for a thorough investigation into the cause of the fire and has worked closely with Jane Midgley, the mother of Simon, in her campaign to be given answers as to why her son died.

Ms Baillie, pictured right,  has also raised the length of time taken to deal with the case directly with both the First Minister and the Crown Office.

She said: ““This is completely heartbreaking for all involved – not least for the families of Simon and Richard.

“After three long, painful years these families now have an outcome in the court. They are devastated and in a state of shock. This was a tragedy that could have been avoided.

“Had the staff involved been given the proper training needed, and more importantly, had the hotel owners heeded the prior warnings given to them about their safety standards, this tragedy might not have happened.

“The length of time that it has taken for this case to be concluded has caused the families involved undue stress and pain, during what is already an unimaginably difficult time for them.

“My sympathies continue to be with families and loved ones of Simon and Richard.”

Wrecked. The old Telfer Smollet mansion on the banks of Loch Lomond after the fatal fire.

One comment

  1. And so the Court fines the company responsible £500,000 for failing to implement proper fire safety procedures. But in doing so, they also sentence the hapless porter for putting the ashes into a cupboard containing kindling and old newspapers.

    Always, always the weakest link who has to shoulder some of the blame when incidents like this occur. I feel truly sorry for Mr O’Malley who must have suffered all kind of remorse for the terrible tragedy.

    But what of the regulatory regime that allows centuries old building to be renovated to five star luxury standards but without fire protections? Yes, the fire may have started in the ‘fire cupboard’ but what of a building, outwardly luxurious, but inwardly lethal with unrestricted internal wall spaces ready to conduct any fire into floor and roof space infernos in minutes?

    Where were the fire break protections to prevent a small fire becoming a holocaust? And why did the regulatory authorities, who flagged up the risk of the cupboard, not follow up on the risk?

    All very apt to blame the company who in truth deserved to be be blamed and convicted. But what of the regulatory framework? Why no action on this. Or is it simply that the government do not accept any responsibility for regulation?

    Certainly seems so. And could this happen again. Well maybe a government minister would like to tell us. The silence is deafening.

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