Page last updated at 17:06 GMT, Friday, 25 July 2008 18:06 UK

Judges dismiss Rosepark fire case

rosepark home
The fire was one of the worst tragedies to hit Scotland in recent years

A fresh attempt to prosecute the owners of a care home where 14 elderly residents died in a fire has collapsed.

Thomas Balmer, 61, Anne Balmer, 60, and their son Alan Balmer, 34, faced 17 charges over the fire at Rosepark Care Home in Uddingston in 2004.

They included alleged health and safety breaches and failure to implement an effective fire safety strategy.

The Appeal Court ruled that the Crown cannot proceed with the indictment because the firm has been dissolved.

The firm Rosepark Care Home, which was run by Mr and Mrs Balmer and their son, was dissolved on 28 February, 2005.

Today's decision of the Appeal Court has clarified the law in relation to the liability of a dissolved partnership for alleged crimes that occurred prior to it being dissolved
Frank Mulholland QC
Solicitor-general

In their published opinion, appeal court judges said: "We conclude that the dissolved partnership does not have any continuing legal personality following dissolution and accordingly we consider that the indictment to which the petitions are directed is incompetent."

The Balmers had originally been due to stand trial over alleged safety breaches last year, but a judge dismissed the charges over a legal technicality.

Prosecutors launched a legal challenge but the appeal court has now refused the appeal.

Solicitor-general Frank Mulholland, QC, said the Appeal Court's decision has brought an important clarification to Scots law.

Worst tragedies

He said: "The decision has brought an end to the current indictment against Rosepark Care Home specifying that the firm was now dissolved.

"The prosecution of a dissolved partnership was previously unknown in Scots law.

"Today's decision of the Appeal Court has clarified the law in relation to the liability of a dissolved partnership for alleged crimes that occurred prior to it being dissolved.

"The Appeal Court has held that criminal liability does not rest with the former firm in its firm name."

Mr Mulholland said consideration was being given to a fresh indictment.

He added: "Crown Office officials and the procurator fiscal have met the families to explain the judgement and the options open to the Crown.

"We are grateful to the families for their patience in this matter. As soon as a decision is taken we will advise the families of it."

The Rosepark fire was one of the worst tragedies in Scotland in recent years.

As well as the death of the 14 residents, several other people were injured when a fire broke out in a downstairs cupboard in the care home.




SEE ALSO
Rosepark fire charges dismissed
21 Feb 07 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Blaze care home owners court date
15 Aug 06 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Blaze care home owners in court
09 Dec 05 |  Scotland
Police quiz fire care home owners
01 Jun 05 |  Scotland
Nursing home report handed over
27 Jan 05 |  Scotland
Care home blaze toll rises to 14
02 Feb 04 |  Scotland
Nursing home fire claims 10 lives
31 Jan 04 |  Scotland

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