Atherstone Trial
Fuming fire chief demands Home Office probe into charges

By Steve Hayes 30/05 Updated: 30/05 15:28

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Graeme Smith.

WARWICKSHIRE Fire and Rescue Service immediately called for a Home Office investigation into why the charges were brought.

Graeme Smith, the chief fire officer, said: "I am very pleased that the case against our three Incident Commanders has so comprehensively collapsed. I expected nothing less.

"It is now clear that these cases should never have been brought to court. I am relieved that their ordeal is over but I also feel a sense of sorrow and remembrance for the four brave fire fighters who died at Atherstone in 2007.

"We will now be seeking assurances from ministers that prosecutions like this never happen again."

Mr Smith expressed anger at the fact that the arsonists responsible for the Atherstone fire and the deaths of four fighters had not been caught.

"Let me be clear about this," he said. "There is clear evidence that the Atherstone fire was arson. The police clearly thought it was because in 2009 they arrested several people on suspicion of arson.

"And during this court hearing we have discovered that the independent report into the cause of the Atherstone fire also concluded that it was arson.

"So why have the arsonists not been apprehended? And why instead did three innocent fire officers find themselves in the dock of a British court?"

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