Atherstone fire police probe 'took wrong turn'

Graeme Smith, chief fire officer for Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service, gave a statement outside court following the verdicts.

"I'm not surprised the three incident commanders have all been acquitted, I expected nothing less.

"It was crystal clear that these cases should never have been brought to court.

"The police investigation into the fire took a wrong turn early on.

"The police treated decent firefighters like common criminals and the arsonist who started the fire has got away with it.

"It's almost five years and £5m of public money to construct a case against these three men and when it was presented in court it simply fell apart.

"The Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service and Chief Fire Officers' Association will be now writing to the home secretary and the justice secretary to seek a formal investigation and how and why these legal proceedings were allowed to go forward.

"Today, I feel a sense of relief that these three incident commanders, for them their ordeal is over but, I also feel deep sense of sorrow and remembrance for the four brave firefighters who died at Atherstone-on-Stour in 2007 and my thought are with their families."

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