BBC News

One million homes still at risk from deadly tumble dryers

By Simon Read
Personal finance reporter


A million potentially deadly tumble dryers could still be being used in British homes, Whirlpool has admitted.

The manufacturer told a government committee that it had repaired only about half of the unsafe appliances since the scandal broke in 2015.

It also admitted to the committee that it actually continued making them for three years after being notified that the appliances were faulty in 2012.

But Whirlpool said it had acted in consultation with Trading Standards.

Background: Truth, fires and tumble dryers; are our home appliances safe?

The tumble dryers, sold under the Hotpoint, Creda and Indesit brands, have been blamed for a number of UK fires, including one in a London tower block and a blaze in Wales where two men died.

image copyrightREMI LEFEVRE
image captionOne tumble dryer led to a tower block fire that left families homeless

MPs on the Business committee accused the firm of failing to act quickly when it knew that the appliances were faulty.

They particularly criticised the firm for failing to recall the faulty machines, with committee chair Rachel Reeves asking: "How many fires are needed for a proper recall of these tumble dryers? We have already seen a number of fires and deaths, yet in many of our homes we still have these appliances."

Others giving evidence echoed her concerns.

Pete Moorey, head of campaigns at consumer group Which?, said Whirlpool had "ducked their responsibilities to customers".

Ian Moverley, communications director of Whirlpool UK, said the company had "worked proactively to identify the safety issue and worked closely with Trading Standards to determine what action would be taken".

He came under fire after being unable to answer some of the MPs' questions.

Ms Reeve said: "Why hasn't someone at a more senior level come in front of us to answer our reasonable questions and take responsibility for the actions of your firm?"

11-year-long scandal

The scandal broke in 2015 after it became clear that Whirlpool manufactured some 5.4 million faulty machines over an 11-year period.

Last month a fire that killed two men in Llanrwst, Conwy county, in October 2014 was linked to the faulty appliances.

Assistant coroner David Lewis said "on the balance of probabilities, the fire was caused by an electrical fault in the tumble dryer in the laundry room of the flat".

In August 2016 the dryers were blamed for a huge fire in a West London tower block, with more than 50 people forced to flee their homes.

Despite that incident the company continued to state the machines were safe to use as long as someone was in the property.

Which? threatened to bring judicial review proceedings against Trading Standards over the advice being given. Trading Standards instructed Whirlpool to issue new guidance earlier this year that the dryers should be unplugged and not be used until they had been repaired.

Whirlpool freephone helplines: 0800 151 0905 in the UK and 1800 804320 in the Irish Republic

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