Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Mumbai terror victim seeks payout

Will Pike, who was paralysed in the terror attack on the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai, arrives at the High Court in London

A holidaymaker who was left paralysed after being caught up in the Mumbai terror attack has launched a bid to have his compensation claim heard in the UK.

Will Pike, 33, is in a wheelchair after falling nearly 50 feet from his bedroom window while trying to escape the extremists who attacked the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in November 2008.

The 33-year-old freelance filmmaker from north London alleges that the owners of the hotel did little to provide security for residents despite several warnings that an attack was imminent.

Mr Pike and his then girlfriend, Kelly Doyle - who is also bringing proceedings - claim they saw limited security checks with only one metal detector and cursory screening of guests.

They say they had not been given proper advice about emergency procedures and evacuation routes and, when they heard doors being kicked in and shots fired, had to break a window with furniture from their smoke-filled room and try to reach the ground using bedding and curtains knotted together.

Mr Pike's lawyers, Leigh Day, have told London's High Court that the case should be heard here, where Mr Pike lives and where The Indian Hotels Company Ltd, which owns the hotel, has a substantial business presence.

His counsel, Philip Havers QC, said that Mr Pike issued his claim two years ago after taking some time to come to terms with his grievous injuries , explore the potential for a claim and instruct experts in the field of liability.

He told Mr Justice Stewart: "He did not choose to bring this claim lightly but only after long, anxious and careful thought."

Before the three-day hearing, which will be taken up with evidence from law experts, Mr Pike said: " I do not see why the British taxpayer should have to pay for the lifelong care I need rather than those who I believe did not do enough to guarantee my safety and the safety of all those caught up in this atrocity."

His solicitor, Russell Levy, said that to fight the case through the Indian courts would be an "exercise in futility".

"Mr Pike's only real hope of seeing justice is in a UK court. The court in Mumbai simply isn't geared up to deal with a claim of this kind.

"We estimate that it would take up to 25 years to pursue this claim through the Indian courts rather than in England, where it will take about two years."

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