THE OWNER of The Abbey College has been prosecuted to the tune of nearly £50,000 due to ‘woefully inadequate’ fire safety measures.
Last Wednesday (January 15) Hekmat Kaveh was fined £24,000 and ordered to pay a further £25,000 in costs after admitting to breaching the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) brought the prosecution after inspectors had found a number of safety hazards at the £23,450-a-year college on Wells Road.
These included defective smoke alarms and fire doors which were not working in student dormitories.
In summing up, Judge Michael Cullum declared Mr Kaveh had a moral and legal responsibility for the staff and students in his care, adding a fire would have been ‘disastrous’ and risk assessment was ‘woefully inadequate’.
Richard Lawrence, deputy chief fire officer for HWFRS, said: “This was an extremely serious case where those living and sleeping inside the premises were being put at risk.
“Business owners have a clear responsibility under fire safety law to ensure that both the public and their employees are as safe as possible from the risk of fire.
“This verdict sends out a clear message, in severe cases where responsibilities are ignored we will prosecute as it is never acceptable to put lives at risk.”
In response Mr Kaveh said HWFRS had dropped 28 of the original 29 charges when the case was brought against The Abbey College in March 2012.
He pointed out the prosecution against the principal had also been dropped after no evidence was found.
Mr Kaveh said: “Clearly I was let down by those people employed and instructed to review the fire risk assessment at the start of the year, but the law is clear in that the employer is the responsible person and for that reason I had no option but to plead guilty and agreed to pay a small percentage of the fire department’s legal fees”.
He added the college currently met all regulatory requirements which was confirmed by Ofsted inspectors in May last year.