St Michael’s Hospice to face court over fire safety

The aftermath of the 2015 fire. Picture by Eddie Mitchell.
The aftermath of the 2015 fire. Picture by Eddie Mitchell.
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St Michael’s Hospice is facing multiple charges over fire safety matters, following an investigation into a fatal blaze at the hospice nearly two years ago.

East Sussex Fire Authority confirmed it has formally started court proceedings against the hospice, with a total of 13 summonses, and evidence to support the charges, served on the company on May 3.

St Michael’s, on Upper Maze Hill in St Leonards, said it was ‘disappointed’ by the fire service’s decision to prosecute.

A spokesperson for East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said: “The decision to bring a fire safety prosecution was based on the evidence gathered during our investigation into a fire at St Michael’s Hospice in St Leonards on Saturday, July 11, 2015 and on a number of other relevant matters.”

Two people subsequently died following the blaze, and a man was later charged with arson with intent to endanger life.

The terminally ill man, who was a patient at the hospice at the time of the fire, died days before the court case.

No further charges are being brought by the police.

The ESFRS spokesperson added: “Our thoughts remain with the families of those who lost their lives.

“As this is now a legal matter, we will not be commenting further.”

A spokesperson for St Michael’s Hospice said: “We are disappointed by the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service’s (ESFRS) decision to prosecute the hospice.

“As ESFRS has said in its press release, the fire at the hospice in July 2015 was started by deliberate arson. We are consulting with our legal representatives on the matter.

“St Michael’s Hospice is very proud of its reputation for the highest standards of care it provides to people with life-limiting illness and assures all patients, families and supporters that this care will continue unaffected.

“We cannot comment further at this stage.”

A hearing is scheduled to take place at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on June 8.