One of the UK’s leading brands of white goods has been blamed for the deaths of at least 11 people — including a woman from Northern Ireland.
Electronics giant Beko is alleged to have failed to have warned of risks posed to the public by its fridge freezers and cookers.
An investigation carried out by The Sunday Times claimed the firm did not act swiftly enough to make customers aware of warnings it had received about the fire risks and carbon monoxide dangers some of its products posed.
It was alleged Turkish-owned Beko was warned by fire chiefs and regulators in November 2008 of potentially deadly flaws in some of its gas cookers following three deaths from poisoning.
Three months later an advertising campaign was launched, by which time three more people had died. Four others are believed to have died as a |result of defective cookers.
In January 2009, 91-year-old Gwen Stanford was killed by her Beko |cooker at her north Belfast home.
Coroner Brian Sherrard said he was satisfied Ms Stanford, who lived alone on the Shore Road, died accidentally when the grill of her gas cooker was |operated while the door was closed, |allowing toxic levels of carbon monoxide to build up in her home.
Beko’s products account for one in five white goods sold in the UK.
The firm said they recalled faulty items as soon as possible, but it faces a £1.5m lawsuit from the widow of a man who died in a house fire. Jennifer Benjamin alleges a fire at the couple’s north London home was caused by a Beko product.
The investigation by the newspaper claimed Beko was warned in June 2010 that its fridge freezers posed a “potential threat to life” following fires.
Ms Benjamin’s husband Santosh died five months later.
Beko denied it had delayed in warning the public of any risks faced as a result of their products.
Managing director Ragip Balcioglu said: “We will not rest until we have done everything in our power to track down any potentially affected products where an issue has been identified.”
RECALLED BEKO PRODUCTS
- Tumble driers: 27,216 products affected. 14 fires so far, no deaths
- Fridge freezers: 492,000 products affected. 20 fires reported in London, one death
- Cookers: 66,320 products affected. 10 deaths, including that of an elderly Belfast woman and two women in Donegal