30 March 2012
3½ years after he was paralysed during the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008, a British man has begun legal action against the luxury international hotel chain he claims did little to provide security for residents of the hotel attacked by Islamic extremists.
Will Pike (32) from North London, fell nearly 50 feet breaking his back, pelvis, leg and fracturing both his left wrist and right elbow in a bid to escape the terrorists as they went through the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel shooting residents and setting fires.
Last week lawyers from Leigh Day & Co, who are representing Mr Pike in a civil claim for damages, served legal proceedings against the owners of the hotel, The Indian Hotels Company Limited, at their five star London Hotel, The Crowne Plaza, St James Palace in Victoria.
The hotel chain also owns the London Michelin-starred restaurant Quilon as well as a string of hotels around the world, including the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.
Mr Pike’s legal team allege that a warning of an attack on the hotel had been received prior to the atrocity and that more should have been done to protect the safety of hotel guests including Mr Pike and his girlfriend Kelly Doyle (35).
In an interview on CNN Asia, the Chairman of the hotel group Mr Ratan Tata, one of the world’s richest men, explained how they had been warned of an attack on the hotel and that some security measures had been put in place but he admitted that “All our arrangements were at the front” and that the terrorists entered the hotel at the back.
Mr Pike and Ms Doyle had arrived at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel at 16:00 on 26 November 2008. They saw limited security checks with only one metal detector and cursory screening of guests.
At around 21:20 they began to hear noises which they described as sounding like firecrackers. They looked outside and could see smoke coming from the floor below.
They had not been given any advice as to the hotel’s emergency procedures and evacuation routes, and became increasingly aware that there was going to be no one to help them. Unable to reach anyone on the hotel internal phone they locked the doors and turned off the lights.
A few hours later a female telephoned the room and told Mr Pike not to answer the door to anyone. They did not know whether this was a hotel employee or one of the terrorists looking for British or American guests.
Shortly afterwards they heard doors being kicked in and the sounds of shots being fired as the terrorists executed guests nearby.
As their hotel room started to fill with smoke, and the sounds of gunfire became louder, they decided they had to escape and tried to break one of the windows, which were secured, with furniture in the room. After several attempts they succeeded and they were both able to perch on the window sill away from the smoke entering the room.
To reach the ground they decided to knot bedding and curtains together. Mr Pike opted to climb down it first, but the knots in the fabric came undone and he fell to the ground suffering serious injuries. Fire fighters who miraculously appeared amid the gunfire saved Ms Doyle.
Mr Pike, who is now confined to a wheelchair and needs life-long medical care, said:
“We know that the hotel did not provoke or assist these terrorist attacks, however, they could have done much more to protect guests especially given their awareness of a terrorist threat against the hotel. I believe it was a tragic oversight to not have effective security, and probably a money saving measure.
“I am now confined to a wheelchair and will need life long care, the cost of which should be funded by those whose inaction led to us fleeing for our lives and not by the NHS.”
, Partner at Leigh Day & Co, who is representing Mr Pike and Ms Doyle in their legal battle, said: “This case is quite simply about a failure by the hotel to protect its residents and the negligence of management in failing to institute appropriate and effective security measures to prevent terrorists from entering the hotel despite warnings of an impending attack, or to put in place proper procedures to evacuate guests and staff safely.
"We are proceeding with legal action in England after our request for a meeting with the hotel owners was refused. They have instead suggested that Mr Pike return to India to pursue legal action and threatened to seek to recover legal costs from him and Ms Doyle.”
Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.