Mother whose son died in hotel fire hoping for answers as date set for inquiry

·3-min read
The blaze at Cameron House Hotel happened in December 2017 (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Archive)
The blaze at Cameron House Hotel happened in December 2017 (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Archive)

The mother of a man who died in a hotel fire which claimed two lives has said she is finally hoping for some closure after a date was set for a fatal accident inquiry into the 2017 blaze.

Simon Midgley, 32, and his partner, Richard Dyson, 38, from London, died in the blaze at the five-star Cameron House Hotel on the banks of Loch Lomond on December 18 that year.

Hotel operator Cameron House Resort (Loch Lomond) Ltd was fined £500,000 and night porter Christopher O’Malley was given a community payback order over the fire at Dumbarton Sheriff Court in January 2021.

Jane Midgley said it has been her “worst nightmare” waiting for answers about what happened and stated that she won’t miss a minute of the Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI), which is set to begin in August.

Simon Midgley with his mother Jane (Family Handout/PA) (PA Media)
Simon Midgley with his mother Jane (Family Handout/PA) (PA Media)

At a continued preliminary hearing, which took place virtually on Tuesday, Sheriff Thomas McCartney agreed the fatal accident inquiry (FAI) will begin at Paisley Sheriff Court on August 15 and will take place in person rather than virtually.

Mrs Midgley told the PA news agency: “Four and a half years on it is a long time for things to be put right and for changes to be made, if any.

“It’s been my worst nightmare, waiting for answers, waiting to see what is going to happen next, will there be any changes, why has it taken so long, why does it take all this time – these questions need to be asked.

“Two young men lost their lives and four and a half years on what has changed? What legislation has changed and what has changed in health and safety in Scotland?”

Simon Midgley (right) and Richard Dyson died following the blaze (Family Handout/PA) (PA Media)
Simon Midgley (right) and Richard Dyson died following the blaze (Family Handout/PA) (PA Media)

Mrs Midgley listened to Tuesday’s hearing remotely and welcomed the decision that the FAI itself will be in person.

She said: “I’m very pleased that it is going to be in person, this is very important to me, very very important, that we get answers, that we have changes made and this kind of thing never happens again.

“I’m just hoping there are no more delays and we can get this sorted and finally get some closure on it. I will be there every day, I won’t miss a minute.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Crown Counsel Graeme Jessop told the hearing that Mrs Midgley has a “strong preference” for the FAI to be in person.

He said: “Jane Midgley, the mother of the deceased Mr Midgley, has expressed her determination to be present and hear all of the evidence at the fatal accident inquiry.

“She wishes it to be known that she has a strong preference for an in-person hearing.”

Mr Jessop said that Mrs Midgley, who lives in the Leeds area, does not have wi-fi access at her home address and listened to the hearing remotely at Victim Support offices in Yorkshire.

Sheriff McCartney said: “That is a strong reason why you would submit that a live hearing within court is the appropriate forum for this.”

Three weeks has been set aside for the FAI and there will be a further preliminary hearing in late June.

Dumbarton Sheriff Court heard in January last year that the fire started after night porter, Christopher O’Malley, emptied ash and embers from a fuel fire into a polythene bag and placed it in a cupboard which contained combustibles including kindling and newspapers.

Cameron House Resort (Loch Lomond) Ltd, owner and operator of the hotel, admitted failing to take the fire safety measures necessary to ensure the safety of employees and guests between January 14 2016 and December 18 2017.

The company admitted two charges of breaching the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005.

O’Malley admitted breaching sections of health and safety laws which relate to the obligation on an employee to take reasonable care for the health and safety of people affected by their acts or omissions at work.

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