Cigarette caused materials recycling facility fire


A cigarette discarded by an electrician was the likely cause of a fire at a materials recycling facility, a court has ruled.

In 2005, fire destroyed a materials recycling facility in Milton Keynes owned by Cutts.


Now the Court of Appeal has ruled that the fire was started by freelance electrician Michael Nulty.  This ruling follows an appeal from professional liability insurers National Insurance and Guarantee Corporation Limited (NIG) who insured the electrician at the time.

Last year, a judge ruled that it was “inherently unlikely” that a cigarette caused the fire, but that it was even less probable that the fire was caused by a loose electricity cable.

But at the Court of Appeal, Lord Justice Toulson said: “The judge’s finding that the cause of the fire was ‘very much less likely’ to have been the arcing of the cable than the cigarette end discarded by Mr Nulty was reached after a painstaking examination of the evidence and was properly open to him.

“Rational analysis of the cable theory showed that it was highly improbable. It would have required a remarkable combination of unlikely events.”

The judge noted that Mr Nulty had been working alone in the building prior to the fire.

He added: “He had the opportunity and could well have had the temptation to do what the council alleged. The circumstantial evidence that he did so on this occasion was compelling.”

Milton Keynes Council will now receive a £1.7 million payout as a result of the ruling from the insurers. In 2004, Milton Keynes awarded the contract to run the MRF under the Community Waste operational vehicle.