Family of Fire Victims to Sue Landlord

The father of one of the victims of the Lakanal House tower block blaze has lodged a High Court claim against the landlord and fire authority involved.

Fernando Francisquini, the father of Dayana Francisquin who died in the fire, has claimed that his daughter’s ‘right to life’ and that of her two children, Felipe, three, and Thais, six, who also died in the fire, was breached.

Sophie Khan, solicitor advocate at McMillan Williams solicitors, acting on behalf of Mr Francisquini, said the claim had been lodged in 2010 but could not proceed until the inquest ended.

The 11-week ‘super inquest’ into the deaths of the six people who died in the 14-storey tower block in Camberwell, south London, finished on 28 March this year.

Ms Khan said letters would be sent to Southwark Council and London Fire Brigade by the end of the month advising them of the High Court action. They have three months to respond.

Ms Francisquini’s husband, Rafael Cervi, confirmed that he and family members of the other victims are also considering suing the council and fire brigade.

They would do this through solicitor Louise Christian, who represents Mr Cervi Mbet Udoaka, husband of Helen Udoaka and father of their 20-day old baby Michelle Udoaka who both died in the fire, and the parents of  Catherine, Philip and Veronica Hickman who also died.

Southwark Council has said it has spent £48 million on its fire risk assessment programme since the fire and is currently spending £326 million to make its homes ‘warm, dry and safe’.

It also said that ‘lessons have been learned’ after the Lakanal House tragedy and it is ensuring there are ‘stringent processes in place to ensure that all materials used in our major works comply with building regulations’.

Evidence in the inquest revealed Southwark Council never sought building control approval for 2006/07 refurbishment of the Lakanal House block, which could have aided the spread of the fire.

The council also confirmed it is carrying out a year-long refurbishment on the nearby sister block of Lakanal House, Marie Curie, and will not be using the exterior panels that became a major feature of the super inquest.

The panels included in the 2006/07 decent homes refurbishment meant that the 2009 fire spread from the flat of origin to that above in under five minutes.

Southwark Council said that it will be using powder-coated aluminium panels under the windows in Marie Curie, in the works that started in September last year. This was the type of panel that was originally being considered by the local authority for the 2006/07 Lakanal House works before it switched to laminate sheeting with an insulation core.

The council also said it is considering coroner Judge Frances Kirkham’s recommendations following the inquest, which included giving residents clearer instructions on what to do in a fire, improving signage in its high rise buildings and reviewing its policies and procedures in relation to fire risk assessments

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