Parents arrested on suspicion of murder in child deaths blaze
The parents of six children who died in a house fire have been arrested on suspicion of their murder.
Mick Philpott (55) and his wife Mairead (31), whose parents are originally from Dublin, were arrested yesterday after being kept under close observation by police over several weeks.
Suspicions were raised after detectives became increasingly concerned that the fire was deliberately started inside the house in Allenton, Derby, where petrol was used as an accelerant, rather than initial thoughts that the fuel was poured through the letterbox.
Sources said that Mr Philpott's behaviour in recent days had also been a factor. One said: "He's been watched very closely from the outset."
Last week, detectives removed the couple's caravan and minibus from outside the house for forensic examination. It is understood the arrests had been planned for several days.
Mr Philpott, a father of 17, is well known in the area and hit the headlines a few years ago when he demanded a bigger council house, having moved Ms Willis and their children in with him, his wife, and their kids.
Nicknamed 'Shameless Mick', he was portrayed as an example of Britain's benefit culture.
Mr and Mrs Philpott's children: Duwayne (13), his sister Jade (10) and brothers John, (9), Jack, (7), Jessie, (6) and Jayden, (5) were all killed by the fire on May 11.
The Philpotts' arrest came as over £10,000 (€12,500) had been donated to pay for the children's funerals at Derby Cathedral. Mr Philpott has asked for the children to be taken to the cathedral in six horse-drawn hearses.
Mr Philpott is engaged in a custody battle with his former mistress, Lisa Willis, who was arrested in the aftermath of the blaze but released after providing police with an alibi.
The pair were due for a hearing a few hours after the fire.
After the fire Mr and Mrs Philpott gave an emotional press conference as they appealed for help to catch those responsible. Mr Philpott was hailed a hero for his attempts to save the children from the blaze.
Police initially faced a wall of silence in their investigation amid fears in the community about possible retribution.
Derbyshire's Assistant Chief Constable Steve Cotterill said: "In view of the arrests, I would urge anyone who may have been holding back, not felt comfortable to voice their concerns or not had the confidence, to do so now." (©Daily Telegraph, London)