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Police responsible for payout to business destroyed in riots

FIRE FIGHT: Firefighters working at the Sony distribution centre in Enfield, north London, on August 12, 2011 (PA)

BLAZES DURING the 2011 riots that wiped out a business in north London will result in the Metropolitan Police paying out compensation after a judge ruled in favour of two insurance companies in their case against police.

The ruling at the High Court determined that Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime was responsible under the Riot Damages Act for paying out for damage inflicted at the Sony distribution centre in Enfield – the fire took 10 days to put out.

Sony’s insurers successfully argued that the organisation responsible for the Met had a duty to make the payment.

In two compensation claims, Sony sought £49.5m in damages to property, stock and loss of business, and the owners of the warehouse asked for £9.35m for property damage and loss of rent.

But in giving his verdict, Mr Justice Flaux said loss of rent and other consequential losses were ineligible to be claimed back.

The fire began at the warehouse on August 8, 2011, during unrest and rioting after police had shot dead Mark Duggan in Tottenham.

According to a written ruling, the warehouse was damaged “by a group of some 25 youths”, who entered the premises using “a variety of makeshift weapons and ran through the property looting it of a certain amount of the stock held there”.

It added: “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 ruled that police had the opportunity to stop the youths inflicting damage because, prior to the incident, the Met had received multiple calls about the gang that responsible for the blaze.

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