Campaigners to apply for fresh Summerland inquest

A formal request is to be made for a fresh inquest into the deaths of 50 people killed in the 1973 Summerland fire disaster.

The Justice for Summerland campaign, which is made up of survivors and relatives of victims of the blaze, said it will take legal action to have the original verdicts overturned.

An inquest held following the fire at the entertainment complex on Douglas seafront recorded the deaths as misadventure.

The group has appointed Belfast-based human rights law firm Phoenix Law to act for the families.

Alfred Cannan standing up in Tynwald speaking
Alfred Cannan issued an apology for the pain and suffering of those affected by the fire in its 50th anniversary year [BBC]

The firm recently represented many families of 48 young people killed in the Stardust fire in Dublin in 1981, who successfully fought for their own fresh inquest.

In a statement, Justice for Summerland said it planned to formally apply to the Isle of Man Attorney General to ask for a fresh inquiry into the “horrific and preventable disaster”.

While its members had spoken to the island’s chief minister Alfred Cannan about re-opening the inquiry into the fire and ensuring there was an “appropriate” memorial on the site, there was “nothing to suggest that he has sought to address any of these issues” the group continued.

In taking legal action, it said it hoped to “at last get an unbiased and fair inquest" and a "verdict reflecting the truth”.

About 3,000 people were at what was at the time one of the biggest indoor leisure complexes in Europe when the fire, thought to have been started by three boys from Liverpool smoking, took hold on 2 August 1973.

A public inquiry held in the aftermath found there were "no villains", only human beings who made mistakes.

Last year saw a series of events held in the island’s capital to mark the 50th anniversary of the disaster.

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