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Cumberland Hotel hammer attack family bring legal action

Three sisters who were brutally attacked in their rooms by an intruder with a claw hammer while staying at the Cumberland Hotel in London, have appointed London law firm Hodge Jones & Allen to take legal action against the hotel.

On 6 April 2014, the sisters, who are from the United Arab Emirates, and six members of their family, including three children, were staying at the four-star hotel. Intruder Philip Spence entered the hotel unchallenged through the main entrance with the intention of carrying out opportunistic thefts. Concealed in his jacket was a claw hammer.

Spence was a drug user and violent criminal with 37 previous convictions for 62 offences. He was familiar with the hotel, having visited it frequently to sleep in cupboards and to steal.

After entering one of the rooms being used by the family, Spence was disturbed mid-burglary by one of the sisters, Khaloud Al-Najar. He attacked her with the hammer, striking her at least six times on the head, face and left arm, before she lost consciousness.

Her sister, Fatima Al-Najar, awoke and attempted to protect her. She was struck at least three times about the head and face, before she too lost consciousness. Khaloud’s daughter, who was 11 years-old at the time, suffered a fractured arm trying to protect her mother and aunt.

Spence went on to attack the third sister, Ohoud Al-Najar, striking her with the hammer at least six times about the head and face. As a result, the left side of her face was destroyed, her facial bone split in half, brain matter protruded from a hole in her skull and spread over her face, her left eye socket was obliterated and her teeth smashed.

Ohoud, who is now 38 years-old, is profoundly disabled as a result of the attack. Khaloud (40) and Fatima (36) suffer a range of symptoms as a result of the attacks, including epilepsy, and emotional and behavioural disturbances.

Ms Riffat Yaqub, a specialist personal injury solicitor at London law firm Hodge Jones & Allen, has now lodged proceedings in the High Court against the Cumberland Hotel for injury, loss and damage on behalf of all nine family members.

She alleges that the hotel was in breach of its duty of care to guests and failed to operate a security system that would protect against foreseeable risks. The list of failures include: a lack of security staff training and monitoring; a lack of security reporting to senior management; no dedicated job descriptions for essential security staff; and a failure to take account of advice offered by the National Counter Terrorism Security Office in 2012 against threats such as burglary.

She also cites 57 instances of alleged theft from the guest rooms between March 2013 and March 2014, some of them made while guests were in their rooms.

Riffat Yaqub says: “This is a truly shocking case of a family who were holidaying in London and rightly expected they would be safe in their hotel beds. The attacks have destroyed their lives and the damage caused is irreversible. As well as physical damage to the sisters, all nine members of the family have suffered psychiatric trauma as a result of the horrific attacks.”

Spence was arrested on 10 April 2014. He was subsequently convicted of attempted murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Following an appeal, Spence was ordered to serve a minimum of 27 years in November 2014.


For further information, please contact:
Clare Rice at Black Letter Communications on 020 3567 1208 or

Notes for Editors

Hodge Jones and Allen

  • Hodge Jones and Allen is one of the UK’s most progressive law firms, renowned for doing things differently and fighting injustice. Its managing partner is Patrick Allen.
  • For almost 40 years’ the firm has been at the centre of many of the UK’s landmark legal cases that have changed the lives and rights of many people.
  • The firm’s team of specialists have been operating across: Personal Injury, Medical Negligence, Industrial Disease, Civil Liberties, Criminal Defence, Court of Protection, Dispute Resolution, Employment, Family Law, Military Claims, Serious Fraud, Social Housing, Wills & Probate and Property Disputes.
  • Co-founder Patrick Allen is still at the helm of the firm he co-founded in 1977.
  • In 2016 the firm launched Hearing their voices – a campaign to raise awareness and build conversations around the issues and the injustices we might all face.