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Council: 'We will always remember the bravery of those who died'

Speaking to the media outside the court building, Warwickshire's community safety spokesman, councillor Richard Hobbs, apologised for the fire authority's failings.

Mr Hobbs said:

We pleaded guilty to the charge brought under the Health and Safety Act because we recognised and accepted that there were failings on our part back in 2007.

Since then, as the judge emphasised today, Warwickshire has become a model fire authority and our training is some of the finest in the country.

No fire service can guarantee that nothing will ever go wrong again but we are confident that our service is as safe as it can be.We will always remember the bravery of those who died in the service of their community and we offer our deepest condolences to their families and friends.

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'Council has reformed risk management after fire deaths'

Mr Justice MacDuff at Stafford Crown Court has said:

The Defendant [Warwickshire County Council] has reformed its risk management systems and training and equipment I am entirely satisfied that there has been full rectification of these matters.

The nearest water supplies were unknown to those who attended the Atherstone fire.

Judge: 'Unfortunate justice has been so delayed'

The Honourable Mr Justice MacDuff at Stafford Crown Court has said:

It is unfortunate that justice in this case has been so delayed.

The Defendant pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.

This was a fire within a building. What was reported was a single pallet fire. The first obvious step was to try and put the fire out provided it could be safely done.

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Council to be sentenced over deaths of four firefighters

Warwickshire County Council is to be sentenced for health and safety breaches linked to a warehouse fire which claimed the lives of four firefighters.

The local authority pleaded guilty in January this year to a charge brought under the Health and Safety at Work Act following an inquiry into the fire in Atherstone-on-Stour in 2007.

The Judge sitting at Stafford Crown Court has issued his opening remarks, saying; "The relatives have taken a close interest in this case I have read the impact statement. I understand the anguish at the loss of men who had their lives ahead of them.

"Men who went fearlessly into the fire in what was considered to be a routine fire at the time I have the most enormous sympathy. I know family members will understand my task.

"It is unusual for a judge to sentence a corporate body. There is no defendant to look in the eye."