Widow of Norwich man Sebastian John sues BP after husband killed in Algeria gas plant terror attack
- Credit: PA
A Norwich widow who lost her husband during a terrorist attack at an Algerian gas plant has launched legal action against BP.
The High Court litigation follows the highlighting of security flaws at the site by the coroner who investigated the deaths of the seven British residents killed during the January 2013 incident at the facility near In Amenas.
Civil claims are being brought by the families of BP employees Sebastian John from Norwich, and Carlos Estrada Valencia who died in the assault by militants linked to al Qaida. They allege that BP failed to take reasonable steps to protect them.
Civil engineer Mr John, a former Norwich School pupil, was the youngest Briton to be killed. Mr Estrada Valencia was a senior BP executive.
Mr John had only recently started working for BP before being deployed at the gas facility.
His widow Nicola, who lives in Norwich with their young son, said: 'I am very saddened and disappointed to learn that BP has denied liability following the attack in Algeria and the loss of my husband Sebastian, which has resulted in us having to issue court proceedings.'
At the conclusion of the February 2015 inquest into the tragedy at the plant, a joint venture between BP, the Norwegian company Statoil and the Algerian state firm Sonatrach, a verdict of unlawful killing was recorded.
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Clive Garner, of law firm Irwin Mitchell, which is leading the case, said: 'In the light of BP's denial of liability, our clients have now commenced court proceedings to help them secure the justice they seek following the deaths of Carlos and Sebastian.
'The past three years have been incredibly difficult for all of our clients and they were deeply shocked at the inquest to hear of the serious security issues at the site where both Carlos and Sebastian were working. We are continuing to support the families as they overcome the trauma of losing their loved ones in such tragic circumstances.
'As well as seeking justice for our clients, it is crucial that lessons are learned from what occurred in In Amenas. All organisations with employees working abroad must carefully review their operations and ensure that the safety and security of their employees is their number one priority. Special care needs to be taken where there is a high risk of attack from terrorists.'
Mr Estrada Valencia's widow, Claudia Gaviria, who lives in Surrey with the couple's daughters aged nine and 13, said: 'It was heart-breaking hearing the evidence presented at the inquest and I still find it difficult to understand how one day Carlos said good-bye as he headed off to work, never to return.
'Carlos was immensely loyal to BP for 18 years but we were kept in the dark for so long about what happened to him and I am now bitterly disappointed that BP continues to deny liability forcing us to take matters through the court system.'