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Lawyer for families affected by Shepherd’s Bush fire welcomes Whirlpool’s ‘overdue’ advice

Lawyer claims advice from Whirlpool to unplug affected tumble driers until they are repaired is long overdue and should not have taken enforcement from a Trading Standards body

22 February 2017

A leading consumer protection lawyer, acting for over 80 people affected by fires allegedly caused by household appliances, has welcomed Whirlpool’s change to its safety advice to consumers, which is to unplug affected appliances until they have been repaired, but says it is long overdue.

Jill Paterson from Leigh Day represents several families affected by a huge blaze in an 18-storey tower block in Shepherd's Bush in August 2016.

London Fire Brigade announced in October 2016 that they believed the fire was caused by a faulty Indesit dryer, following a "painstaking" investigation. Whirlpool, which owns the brands Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda, is advising customers who have an affected tumble dryer, which is subject to a safety notice, to unplug the machines until repairs have taken place.

Their previous advice stated that the tumble dryers could be used if they were not left unattended while in use. It has now changed its advice after receiving two enforcement notices from Peterborough Trading Standards.

In November 2015 Whirlpool identified a potential safety concern with two types of tumble dryers from their Indesit, Hotpoint and Creda brands manufactured between April 2004 and September 2015. They are undertaking a repair programme to modify the appliances to address the issue.

In December 2016, the consumer group Which? threatened to pursue a judicial review against the trading standards office for its handling of the issue.

A statement on the Hotpoint website states: “Trading Standards confirmed, following an internal review by independent experts, that the modification programme remains the most effective way of resolving this issue. As a result, we will continue with our efforts to provide consumers with a free of charge modification as quickly as possible. Trading Standards have also notified us that updated usage advice should be communicated to affected consumers. If your tumble dryer is affected by this issue then you should unplug it and do not use it until the modification has taken place.”

Jill Paterson a partner in the consumer law and product safety team at Leigh Day, who acts for some of the families affected by the Shepherd’s Bush fire allegedly caused by a household appliance, said:

“This advice from Whirlpool is long overdue, there should have been more urgent action taken to protect consumers. It should not have taken enforcement action by Trading Standards for this to happen.

"Manufacturers have a responsibility to their customers and consumers have a right to expect that what they are buying is safe and will not cause damage or injury.

"The product recall regime in the UK needs a complete overhaul and we continue with our calls for the Government to implement the recommendations set out in the independent review led by consumer champion Lynn Faulds-Wood.”

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