Halifax family whose house was destroyed by gas explosion launch petition to change the law

Hundreds of people are backing a Halifax family’s call for a change in the law after their home was flattened by a gas explosion.
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Gemma McLaughlin has launched a petition to Parliament urging current gas safety regulation rules to be changed after her parents’ house in Illingworth was destroyed.

As reported by the Courier last month, Gwen and Liam McLaughlin’s home on Green Lane was demolished by the blast in December 2020 which – according to one neighbour – “lifted the roof away” from the house where they had lived for 15 years.

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Mrs McLaughlin was seriously injured, suffering burns all over the body, having to be put in an induced coma and suffering a stroke which impacted the whole right-hand side of her body.

Gemma McLaughlin with dad Liam McLaughlin and a photo of mum Gwen McLaughlinGemma McLaughlin with dad Liam McLaughlin and a photo of mum Gwen McLaughlin
Gemma McLaughlin with dad Liam McLaughlin and a photo of mum Gwen McLaughlin

Gemma McLaughlin fought for three years for a personal injury claim against Northern Gas Networks on behalf of her parents - but has been told the case has been closed.

The reason she has been given, she says, is that because there were gas works being carried out nearby at the time of the blast, the utilities firm is not liable.

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A spokesperson for Northern Gas Networks said: “We have every sympathy for the McLaughlin family but we cannot comment on any ongoing proceedings which may be related to the case.”

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She is now desperate to get the matter debated in Parliament to change this rule.

"We just want this clause overturned to stop it happening to anyone else,” she said.

The petition is asking for The Pipelines Safety Regulations 1996 to be amended to remove the defence for failing to ensure that a pipeline is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.

"Currently it is a defence for failing to comply with the duty in regulation 13 to maintain pipelines where, for example, the pipe was included within an approved programme which was not then due for completion,” says the petition.

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"We think this is unfair, and can prevent people who are affected by poorly maintained pipelines from seeking recourse.”

More than 1,300 people have signed the petition so far but for Parliament to respond, that number must reach 10,000 and for it to be considered for debate in Parliament, 100,000.

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