December 7 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, September 12, 2013
A High Court fight over who should pay out up to £60million for a warehouse full of electrical goods destroyed by rioters has seen the Metropolitan Police lose out to insurers.
The Sony depot in Enfield, north London, was looted heavily by a gang of youth before being petrol bombed during the widespread disorder across the capital two summers ago.
The electronics firm’s insurers were trying to claim the losses arose out of damage caused by ‘persons riotously and tumultuous assembled’.
Legislation governing the police says compensation for ‘damage by riot’ should be paid out of police funds.
Lawyers representing the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, whose office funds the Met, disagreed, arguing the incident ‘did not constitute a riotous and tumultuous assembly’.
But the judge, Mr Justice Flaux, ruled the damage caused to the Sony distribution warehouse in August 2011 fell into that category, and came down in favour of the insurers after analysing evidence at a High Court hearing in London in July.
In a written ruling he said the building had been destroyed and looted shortly before midnight on August 8, 2011 during ‘the widespread civil disorder and rioting which took place in London and elsewhere’ after a man was shot and killed by police in Tottenham.
He said the attack on the warehouse was ‘perpetrated by a group of some 25 youths’ who earlier congregated on a nearby housing estate.
“The youths smashed into the warehouse using a variety of makeshift weapons and ran through the building looting it of a certain amount of the stock held there,” said Mr Justice Flaux.
“Two of them then threw petrol bombs into the stacking within the warehouse and they all made their escape, some carrying what had been looted, and left the warehouse to burn.
“The whole incident took no more than just over three minutes. However the fire took hold and burned for some 10 days, with the total destruction of the plant, equipment and stock.”
The judge said insurers claimed losses added up to more than £60 million and wanted compensation from the mayor’s office under the Riot (Damages) Act 1886.
He said the act, amended by further legislation in 1964 and 1996, had a section headed ‘compensation to persons for damage by riot’, and had been asked to decide two issues, whether losses claimed arose out of damage cause by ‘persons riotously and tumultuously assembled’ within the meaning of the legislation, and whether ‘consequential losses’, including loss of profit or rent, were ‘in principle recoverable’.
Mr Justice Flaux ruled the losses did arise from rioting within the meaning of the 1886 act, but he decided ‘consequential losses’ were not ‘in principle recoverable’ under the legislation.