Which? has started the formal process to judicially review Peterborough Trading Standards’ handling of the Whirlpool tumble dryer safety issue.
Almost a year after the fire safety issue affecting millions of consumers was announced in November 2015, an investigation by the London Fire Brigade recently concluded that a Whirlpool tumble dryer was to blame for a tower-block fire in Shepherd’s Bush.
Following Peterborough Trading Standards’ failure to review the situation in light of this report, Which? is stepping in to take action on this critical issue.
Many Hotpoint, Indesit, Proline and Creda tumble dryer models (all brands manufactured by Whirlpool) made between April 2004 and October 2015 could pose a fire risk.
You can find a list of 127 of the affected tumble dryers and advice on what to do if your dryer is one of those affected by the fault in our guide to the Whirlpool tumble dryer safety alert.
No choice but to pursue formal legal action
Following earlier attempts to get Peterborough Trading Standards (PTS) to do the right thing, Which? now believes there is no choice but to pursue formal legal action to ensure that members of the public are protected.
The judicial review will ask the High Court to assess whether PTS’ handling of the case since the London Fire Brigade’s report has been lawful.
Alex Neill, managing director of home and legal services at Which?, said: ‘We believe that the way Whirlpool has handled the tumble dryer safety issue is absolutely appalling and, to add insult to injury, Peterborough Trading Standards has failed to do its duty to protect consumers.
‘We have decided to step in and take legal action because we want Peterborough Trading Standards to properly protect Whirlpool customers and carry out its role as an enforcer of product safety laws.’
Which? expects PTS to conduct a fresh, independent assessment of the risk posed by the millions of faulty Whirlpool tumble dryers in UK homes.
A failing product safety system
The handling of this issue exemplifies the problems with the current product safety system and the ability of local Trading Standards branches to stand up to big business as effective enforcers.
The current system is failing consumers and must be reconsidered by the government.
Because Whirlpool’s UK head office is in Peterborough, PTS is dealing with the matter. Papers have been filed against Peterborough City Council, the local authority that PTS forms part of, in the High Court to start the process.
If the High Court grants Which? permission to proceed with its judicial review, a court hearing would be expected to begin in 2017.
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