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The BBC's Jon Silverman
"If the case is successful other compensation claims are likely to be made"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 23 August, 2000, 17:44 GMT 18:44 UK
Soho bomb survivor to sue
The Admiral Duncan
Three died when the Admiral Duncan was bombed
A man who was badly injured in the nail bomb attack on a pub in Soho, central London last year, has been granted legal aid in his attempts to sue its owners for negligence.

Gerald Wheatley, 49, suffered serious injuries when the bomb ripped through the Admiral Duncan pub in May last year, killing three people.

It emerged later that police had suspected the nailbomber would target a gay venue and had warned several pubs to be vigilant.

Mr Wheatley now intends to investigate whether a High Court case against the pub's owners, Scottish and Newcastle, could be brought.

Gerald Wheatley
Gerald Wheatley: Suffered severe burns and was left partially deaf
David Copeland, 24, of Farnborough, Hampshire, was convicted of murder at the Old Bailey earlier this year.

He denied murder but admitted causing three explosions.

Copeland, a homophobic neo-Nazi who wanted to start a race war, planted two other bombs in Brixton and Brick Lane, areas of London popular with ethnic minorities.

Mr Wheatley suffered severe burns to his face and hands as a result of the Soho blast.

A burst eardrum has also left him partially deaf.

Precautions

He spent two weeks in hospital recovering from his injuries and still has not regained full health.

His solicitor Andrew Belmont said they were investigating whether there was a case to be heard.

"We believe the Admiral Duncan pub was warned in advance and we want to investigate the exact nature of that warning and what measures the Admiral Duncan took as a result," he said.

The investigation is expected to take two months to complete.

Scottish and Newcastle declined to comment on the case at this stage but, if it is successful, many other compensation claims could be made.

Mr Wheatley said his life had been ruined by the bomb.

David Copeland
Copeland hated homosexuals
"I was unable to go out, I was unable to go on the Tube," he said.

"I would totally freak out, I would hyperventilate and want to pass out. I still can't go into various closed spaces."

Police suspected gay venues might be a target of the bomber and visited various Soho pubs, including the Admiral Duncan, before the attack.

The success of the claim for compensation will depend on what warning was given and if reasonable precautions were taken by the pub's owners.

Mr Belmont said: "We now know that the Admiral Duncan was warned it was a potential target.

"In the trial of David Copeland it was given in evidence that the pub was warned.

"What we want to investigate is the exact nature of this warning and taking into account this warning, whether the pub took the appropriate action to protect the public."

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