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  1. ITV Report

Bradford fire: Lead detective dismisses fresh claims

A former detective who led investigations into the deadly 1985 fire at Bradford City's Valley Parade stadium has insisted the disaster was an accident.

Raymond Falconer, a retired detective chief inspector from West Yorkshrire Police, told ITV News' Rags Martel that claims made in a new book by survivor Martin Fletcher were a shock, and said the cause of the fire was in his view clear.

It was such a surprise because the cause of the fire, in my view, was unequivocal. It was a carelessly discarded cigarette end.

– Raymond Falconer, former detective chief inspector, West Yorkshire Police

Falconer claimed there was "never any suggestion whatsoever that it was deliberate" and said the man deemed by an inquiry to have been responsible for the mistakenly causing the fire with a cigarette had accepted responsibility.

He also specifically addressed a link made by Fletcher between the incident and previous fires at businesses owned by Stafford Heginbotham - the club's then chairman, who died in 1995.

At the time we were aware that Stafford Heginbotham had had some bad luck with some fires, but that was never a major part of the investigation.

– Raymond Falconer, former detective chief inspector, West Yorkshire Police
Fifty-six people were killed in the blaze.

Fletcher - who was 12 at the time of the disaster - escaped with his life, but his father, grandfather and younger brother were among the 56 killed.

In his book, serialised in the Guardian, he did not make any direct allegations but asked: "Could any man really be as unlucky as Heginbotham had been?"

West Yorkshire Police has said the force would consider any new evidence about the fire.