DLA Piper pledges to hit back after Cutty Sark fire

DLA Piper has pledged to “do whatever is necessary” to help The Cutty Sark Trust in the wake of the fire that has gutted the 19th century ship, including prosecution if the blaze turns out to have been started by arsonists, as police fear.

DLA Piper national planning head Howard Bassford told The Lawyer: “The vessel is a grade-one listed building monument and we’ll do whatever’s needed to get the restoration project back on track.

“We have the best regulatory and criminal practice in London and if we’re called upon to use it we’ll be able to help.”

As reported by The Lawyer today (21 May), DLA Piper has acted pro bono for The Cutty Sark Trust, the organisation responsible for restoring and preserving the historic ship, since 2004.

Police are treating the fire that engulfed the vessel, one of the UK’s best-preserved maritime treasures and one of East London’s biggest tourist attractions, as suspicious.

Firefighters were called to the ship, which is preserved in dry dock, at 4.45am this morning. Police are appealing for witnesses.

If the fire does turn out to have resulted from arson, the firestarters face prosecution on two grounds: damaging a listed building is a crime in its own right under the Planning and Listed Building Conservation Act 1990.

Any prosecution would be carried out by the local planning authority, the London Borough of Greenwich.

Russell Power, Greenwich’s head of legal services, was unavailable for comment.