Lakanhal House fire – Southwark Council will not face manslaughter charges


Southwark Council will not face manslaughter charges for the fire at Lakanal House in July 2009. Six persons including a baby died in the fire.

Crown prosecutors believe that there is no realistic chance of a prosecution of Southwark Council.

Rene Barclay  ofthe Crown Prosecution Service, said:

“I am satisfied that…there is no realistic prospect of conviction for an offence of manslaughter by gross negligence or corporate manslaughter against any individual, any company or the London Borough of Southwark.

“I considered the roles played by the manufacturer of the television set, the companies contracted to undertake the refurbishment and the London Borough of Southwark who owned the property. Given that some of the alleged breaches occurred before the new Corporate Manslaughter Act came in to force, I considered this case under the common law offence of gross negligence manslaughter.

“I have concluded that there is insufficient evidence to establish any personal gross breach of duty on the part of a sufficiently senior official of the council or any of the companies, which could be said to have caused death, as would be necessary under that law to bring a prosecution. I concluded a prosecution of any company or organisation for an offence of manslaughter by gross negligence was therefore not legally possible. I have also concluded that there is insufficient evidence to establish the guilt of any individual.

“I also considered whether the council’s alleged failure prior to the outbreak of the fire to undertake a risk assessment under the Fire Safety Order 2005 provided a sufficient basis to bring a charge. This alleged failure occurred after the introduction of the new Corporate Manslaughter Act and so it was considered under the new law. I concluded that there was insufficient evidence to satisfy a jury that the council’s conduct at a senior management level amounted to a gross breach of duty causing any of the deaths.

“I extend my deepest sympathies to the families of those who died and have met them, along with the Director of Public Prosecutions, to explain in person the decisions I have reached.”

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