Twenty survivors and families of a jihadi terrorist attack which resulted in the death of 40 innocent people at an Algerian gas plant are taking legal action against BP.
A group linked to Al Qaeda stormed the In Amenas gas plant three years ago and in the aftermath 39 foreign workers and one local man were killed in January 2013.
Foreign workers were forced to put explosives around their necks by the terrorists before the Algerian military regained control of the site.
Now three families of men killed in the attack and 17 survivors have issued proceedings in the High Court against BP after the company denied any wrong doing. The group claims that the energy giant failed to take proper precautions to protect the workers at the plant.
An inquest last year noted that there were flaws in security precautions at the plant revealing that security drills were rarely held, there were no armed guards in the foreign workers’ living quarters or in the compound’s 12 watchtowers and armed gendarmes arrived only well after the terrorists had seized the plant.
The gas field, which was jointly operated by BP, the Algerian state company Sonatrach and the Norwegian company Statoil, was 48 miles from the border with Libya which was collapsing into civil war.
Despite this the front gates were said to have been frequently left open and on the day of that attack the jihadis drove in just before 6am largely unhindered. A three day siege ensued which ended with the Algerian forces storming the gas depot. Judge Nicholas Hilliard recorded verdicts of unlawful killing.
Lorraine Barlow, 55, from Liverpool, whose husband Garry died in the attack, said: “I would implore BP to accept the coroner’s findings and not add to the suffering of my family. Don’t they think we’ve suffered enough?
“I want BP to accept responsibility for their part in my husband’s death.”
Mark Grant, 32, from Grangemouth, Stirlingshire, survived the attack. He said: “BP need to be held to account for the lack of security when we were attacked. Close friends I had worked with for a number of years are now dead and we need to get justice for them and the injured.
“For those who no longer have a husband or a father BP need to pay out for their loss so those kids can at least grow up having the opportunity in life they would have had if their father had been providing for them.”
Kevin Graham, 53, who now lives in Thailand, managed to escape the plant during the attack. He said: “The way BP has treated us is diabolical and they need to recognise they failed to do enough to protect us.
“We are fighting for all of those people all over the world who have been left without a husband or father.
“The problem is BP just don’t care. After we had been through the ordeal at In Amenas BP put myself and others through hostile environment training so that we could cope again, but that involved us being exposed to a mock kidnapping and being shot at. It gives me nightmares every night. I’m still living with it to this day.”
Darren Matthews, 32, from Loftus, Cleveland, who hid out in his room for two days, said: “We have launched this group action as it makes us stronger if we stand together against this corporate giant.
“We are trying to get redress for the widows and families. BP need to realise they are responsible for the safety of the site staff and have a legal duty of care. There were husbands and fathers that didn’t come home from work. We need to get justice for them.”
Alicia Thompson, lawyer at Slater and Gordon, who is representing the group, said: “Our clients have been through a tremendous ordeal over the past three years and for them to hear that BP has denied liability was a terrible blow.
“In light of that decision we felt we had no choice but to issue legal proceedings. Ultimately we want to gain justice for those who so tragically lost their lives and for those who survived to tell the world the truth but are still scarred by what happened to them at In Amenas.”