Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Statement on Marlie Farm Court ruling 27 August 2013

The Insurers of  East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service have now formally instructed their lawyers to seek permission to appeal the Judgment of Mr Justice Irwin, delivered on 30 July 2013 at the Royal Courts of Justice.  Commenting upon this development CFO Des Prichard said:-

"I have learned today that our Insurers have formally served notice of their intention to seek permission to appeal the Judgment of Mr Justice Irwin.  As an organisation, we are bound by the decision of our Insurers , irrespective of our personal opinions and my own personal view.

For my part I shall never forget that Brian Wembridge and Geoff Wicker, two dedicated employees of ESFRS lost their lives on that day and a number of my colleagues including Police Officers, were injured.  I have been humbled by the courage and dignity of the Wembridge and Wicker families over what is now almost 7 years as they seek to understand how their loved ones lost their lives and I can understand and fully accept why they see it as crucial that this case be brought to a conclusion as soon as possible, so that they can move on.  It is also vital as part of the recovery process, that those who suffered injury on that day in December 2006 can also try and put this terrible tragedy behind them.

It is important however to remind ourselves  that  the deaths and injuries would not have occurred without the gross negligence of Martin and Nathan Winter, whose actions up to and including on that day, resulted in their being convicted of manslaughter and serving lengthy prison sentences.

It is now nearly seven years since that terrible explosion.  It was my hope that we would have been able to move on at the conclusion of this trial, and that the families involved would then have been able to focus on the future.  This remains my hope and our lawyers have advised me that the Court of Appeal  encourages and supports the mediation of appeals and will provide access to alternative dispute resolution in order help to resolve this matter as speedily as possible.

To that end I am very pleased to hear that the solicitors instructed by our Insurers have invited those representing the Claimants  to attend what I understand is called a ‘without prejudice meeting’ to see whether it is possible for this case  now to be brought to an end.  It is my utmost and sincere hope that the offer to attend this meeting will be accepted by all parties and that the meeting will be able to swiftly bring this case to a conclusion.

My thoughts continue to remain with those who were injured in this terrible tragedy , but in particular my thoughts are with the Wicker and Wembridge families.  I will do all I can to support them now and in the future."

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