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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 February 2007, 18:19 GMT
Rosepark fire charges dismissed
Thomas Balmer, Anne Balmer and Alan Balmer (picture by Spindrift)
Thomas, Anne and Alan Balmer leave court
Charges against three people arising out of a fire at a nursing home in which 14 people died have been dropped.

Lord Hardie dismissed charges against Rosepark nursing home owners Thomas Balmer, Anne Balmer and Alan Balmer.

This was due to the way in which the charges on the indictment had been framed by the Crown Office.

At the High Court, Lord Hardie said the decision did not mean there would be no further proceedings as a result of the fire in Uddingston in 2004.

He said it was a matter for the Lord Advocate to decide what further action should be taken against the husband and wife and their son.

"I wish to emphasise for the benefit of the relatives of those residents who perished in the fire and the injured residents and their relatives that this decision does not signal an end of proceedings against the accused," he said.

"It is a matter for the Lord Advocate, acting in the public interest, to determine whether further action should be taken against any or all of the first three accused and, if so, on what charges."

'Absolutely scandalous'

Terence McSherry, whose sister Margaret died in the blaze, said he was horrified.

He said: "If the Crown messed this up then it's absolutely scandalous."

The Balmer family were charged with a number of offences under health and safety and workplace legislation.

READ THE SUMMARY OF DECISION
Rosepark nursing home

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During a two-day hearing, Lord Hardie heard the alleged offences could only be carried out by employers.

The three Balmers, although partners in the company running the nursing home, were not in law employers.

Thirteen months after the tragedy on January 2004, the partnership was dissolved and a limited company was formed.

The Balmer family's lawyers said they were happy at the decision and are still waiting to study the judge's full opinion.

A spokeswoman for the Crown Office said: "Crown Counsel are currently giving full and careful consideration to the opinion issued by Lord Hardie.

"As Lord Hardie stated, we would also wish to emphasise for the benefit of the relatives of those residents who perished in the fire, and the injured residents and their relatives, that this decision does not signal an end of proceedings."


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
See the decision explained and reaction



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