Simon Midgley and his partner Richard Dyson were unlawfully killed in Cameron House Hotel inferno

Simon Midgley, 32, died after a fire broke out at Cameron House Hotel on Loch Lomond.Simon Midgley, 32, died after a fire broke out at Cameron House Hotel.

Simon Midgley, 32, and Richard Dyson, 38, were unlawfully killed when fire engulfed the five-star Cameron House Hotel on the banks of Loch Lomond on December 18, 2017, a coroner in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, concluded on Wednesday.

Mr Midgley’s mother, Jane, told the hearing that her son, who ran his own travel PR and journalism business, phoned her from the hotel on December 17 saying the couple were “having a fabulous time”.

She told court he said: “I’m drowning in dreams, mother dear. And I promise you life is going to be good from now on.”

Mrs Midgley, from Pudsey, Leeds, said her son told her: “I’m so looking forward to spending Christmas with you. Don’t forget my pigs-in-blankets.”

Wakefield senior coroner Kevin McLoughlin outlined the basic details of how the blaze started at the hotel after a night porter put a bag full of embers in a cupboard.

Mr McLoughlin expressed frustration and “puzzlement” that he had not been granted access to thousands of pages of documents from the investigation by Scottish authorities, including 1.2 terabytes of CCTV footage, due to “confidentiality” rules.

The coroner also said he was puzzled why Scottish prosecutors had taken three years to conclude a criminal case when it was clear from footage shown on media reports how the fire had begun.

Earlier this year, hotel operator Cameron House Resort (Loch Lomond) was fined £500,000 and night porter Christopher O’Malley was given a community payback order after admitting fire safety offences.

Mrs Midgley told the court she was still waiting to hear whether there would be a fatal accident inquiry in Scotland and, asked if there should be, she said “100%”, adding she would continue to campaign for it.

She said the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service  continued to tell her she could not have documents relating to the case due to confidentiality, which the coroner told her would not happen in England.

Mr Dyson’s father Roger, from Wetherby, West Yorkshire, told the coroner his family also wanted a fatal accident inquiry but this was “in limbo”.

He said his son, who was an assistant TV director, was a “gentle loving person who was living life and loving life”.

Roger Dyson told the inquest he thought the fine handed to the hotel company was “derisory”.

The coroner said he was concerned by evidence he heard about how the guest list was left inside the hotel during the evacuation and there was a gap of more than an hour between firefighters arriving and them working out Mr Dyson and Mr Midgley were missing.

Mr Dyson’s father told the inquest this delay “was fatal, in my view”.

The coroner said he had no power to make recommendations to Scottish authorities about this matter but he will be writing to business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng and other relevant bodies.

Mr McLoughlin said: “It cries for a technological solution.”

Simon Midgley, 32, and Richard Dyson, 38, were unlawfully killed when fire engulfed the five-star Cameron House Hotel at Arden, Loch Lomondside.

He suggested that cloud-based computer guest lists accessible by firefighters might be a solution, but added: “Whether that would have made a difference in this case we cannot say.”

The coroner said he will copy Scottish authorities into his report, and the issue “deserves explanation and consideration”.

Mr McLoughlin said he had decided he could safely conclude both men had been unlawfully killed, despite the fact there was no manslaughter prosecution in Scotland.

He said one key element of this decision was that the hotel had been “expressly warned” about slack procedures for dealing with embers from open fires.

Mr Dyson and Mr Midgley lived together in Somerfield Road, north London, the inquest heard.

One comment

  1. This tragedy has been an utter outrage.

    Two people died in what was a criminally unsafe building. Why did the regulations permit this tinderbox waiting to happen to have a public operating licence. Why did fire inspections that identified the risk of the disposal of fire ashes not put a stop to the process through the force of law.

    Not getting many answers to this and one gets the distinct impression that these deaths were in truth an inconvenience to the Scottish Government. Not a good look to have folks burned to death in a luxury five star hotel.

    But money talks and it certainly talks with this government. Loch Lomond and environs is a big money, big big money environment. Luxury golf courses, millionaire estate ownerships, foreign and off shore owned investment, being the absolute norm. In fact, the Cameron House’s ultimate ownership was in an offshore jurisdiction.

    Vested commercial interest very much at the heart of Loch Lomond. It is a money magnet. The push by Flamingoland to secure the publicly owned land, and the Scottish Government’s eagerness to transfer it to a private individual is testimony to that.

    So maybe no surprise at all that there’s no real answer to the Cameron House tragedy. And hard luck, very hard luck for the families of those lost loved one, just don’t expect answers from the Scottish Government.

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