London: A British court today began hearing a case of compensation claimed by a British man allegedly paralysed during the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. The man has sued the owners of the iconic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, alleging they neglected security despite warnings of an imminent assault.
Will Pike's legal team will argue against an attempt by the Tata Group-owned Indian Hotels Company to prevent his case from being heard in the High Court at London.
The 33-year-old Londoner is taking legal action against the Tata Group firm, alleging that the hotel did little to provide security for residents despite several warnings that an attack on the luxury five-star facility was imminent.
The terror assault on India's financial hub on November 26, 2008 left 166 people dead.
Mr Pike and his girlfriend at that time, Kelly Doyle, checked into the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel on the day the attack took place. They allege there were limited security checks with only one metal detector and cursory screening of guests.
As their room began to fill with smoke following the siege that night and the sounds of gunfire became louder, they claim they decided to escape and tried to break one of the windows in their room.
They say they succeeded to break the window after several attempts and were able to reach the ground using bed sheets and curtains as makeshift rope.
Mr Pike claims he opted to climb down first, but the hotel fabric could not bear his weight and he fell nearly 50 feet to the ground. The impact broke his back, pelvis and leg and fractured his left wrist and right elbow, he alleges in his lawsuit.
Fire fighters later saved his girlfriend, Ms Doyle.
"I hope it (the case) will ensure that public safety is placed before profits. Hotels should have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their guests which should include disclosing information regarding terrorist threats," Mr Pike said.