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A former boss of a Hounslow restaurant has lost his appeal against a £10,800 fine for eight breaches of fire safety regulations at the 300-seater business.
Businessman Darshan Grewal was ordered to pay £1,020 costs for the appeal. His partner at the time of the offences, Sirjit Dhaliwal, withdrew his appeal on the day of the hearing.
The two men admitted eight offences of failing to comply with fire safety regulations at the Karahi Palace restaurant and banqueting suite in Hounslow when they appeared at Feltham Magistrates court on July 1.
The case was brought by London Fire Brigade after fire safety inspectors visited the premises in March 2010. The partners have since sold the restaurant.
The court heard that the lives of 300 people could have been put at risk after inspectors found that the fire exit route was blocked with furniture and the floor was covered with oil. Flammable materials were also stored in the rear stairwell.
The fire exit doors, themselves, were also blocked , meaning that anyone trying to escape would have been trapped. The court also heard there had been recurring breaches of the regulations.
At the appeal hearing on Thursday, 29 August at Isleworth Crown Court Mr Grewal lost his appeal against the original £10,800 fine. Costs of £3,000 for the original court case and a further £1,020 costs added for the appeal were awarded against him.
At the original hearing Mr Dhaliwal was fined £9,750,a fine that was reduced because he had paid for the deficiencies to be put right, and ordered to pay costs of £3,000.
London Fire Brigade Assistant Commissioner for fire safety regulation Steve Turek said: “This was a series of very serious repeated offences . If there had been a fire at the restaurant there could have been potentially fatal consequences for large numbers of people.
“The fines handed out send a clear message that we will not hesitate to prosecute if we believe that building owners are ignoring their responsibilities under fire safety laws. The fact that the judge dismissed this appeal to reduce Mr Grewal’s fine should also serve as a warning that the courts take these matters as seriously as we do.”
• Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, employers or those who have control over a premises (known as the ‘responsible person’) are required by law to carry out a fire risk assessment and act on its findings. The risk assessment should also identify actions which need to be taken in order to protect the building from fire. It must be kept under constant review and amended if any changes are made to the premises.
• London Fire Brigade carries out around 16,000 fire inspections of premises each year and although the majority of buildings are managed well in regard to fire, there are still too many buildings that do not have an adequate fire risk assessment and as a result have fire exits blocked, inadequate fire alarms or poor training for staff. The Brigade can and does prosecute companies or individuals if there are breaches to fire legislation and though court action is a last resort, recent cases show that the courts will issue fines or even consider prison sentences for serious cases.