London hotel owner denies responsibility for attack on Emirati sisters

The Cumberland Hotel in London and GLH, the Malaysian firm that owns it, “cannot be held liable” for a brutal hammer attack on three Emirati sisters that place in April 2014, GLH said in a statement on Wednesday.

During the incident, then-33 year-old Philip Spence attacked Fatima, Khulood and Ohoud Al Najjar on the seventh floor of the Cumberland Hotel during a robbery bid. The sisters suffered severe injuries in the attack.

The sisters – residents of Abu Dhabi – are now suing the hotel, claiming that security at the property was inadequate and substandard, allowing Spence to reach an elevator to the hotel’s upper floors without being stopped by security.

He was able to scout several floors of the property before entering the sisters’ room through a door that had been deliberately left on a latch because Ohoud was unable to find her room key.

A two week civil case at the Royal Courts of Justice in London ended on Wednesday to allow the judge to consider his judgement, which is not expected for several months.

In a statement, GLH said that it bears no responsibility for the incident.

“The Al Najar sisters have our deepest sympathy for the horrific injuries they received at the hand of Philip Spence whilst staying at our hotel in 2014,” the company statement said. “However, we cannot accept responsibility for [the] attack which is why we are contesting the Al Najar family’s claim in this trial.”

The statement added that the company intends to demonstrate that security was in line with standard procedures at many other busy hotels at the time.

In court, a security expert brought in by the sisters’ legal representative outlined a number of steps that he said he believed may have prevented Spence from entering, including implementing a standard for access control to guest floors and a review of security standards. Additionally, the court was told that the hotel failed to implement CCTV cameras adequately and create a secure lobby.

The company, however, said that these steps would have done little to prevent the incident.

“The sad truth is that this unfortunate incident would not have happened if the Al Najar family had not left their bedroom doors deliberately propped open,” the statement added. “Our lawyers will further argue that Mr Spence’s unwarranted attack was an entirely unpredictable event.”

Spence – who was accused of three counts of attempted murder for the drug-fuelled incident – was sentenced to 27 years in prison.

“Hotel staff did everything they could to support the Al-Najar family on the night in question five years ago and subsequently to help secure Mr Spence’s conviction,” GLH’s statement said. “The hotel reiterates its deepest sympathy, however, cannot be held liable for Spence’s actions and the dreadful injuries the Al Najar sisters sustained.”

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