From The BBC

An insurance company has won a High Court fight over its refusal to pay out on a claim for damage caused by the disposal of a World War Two bomb.

The claim from the University of Exeter related to a controlled explosion in 2021.

It caused damage to university halls of residence.

Allianz declined the claim, saying that the loss suffered by the university fell within the scope of a “war exclusion” clause.

Judge Nigel Bird said in his ruling: “The dropping of the bomb is an act of war and so the loss suffered is excluded from cover.”

Window hanging off at student halls
Image caption,University of Exeter students were evacuated from halls of residence


Contractors working on a construction site on private land to the west of the university’s campus unearthed the unexploded 1,000kg (2,200lb) device in February 2021.

The high-explosive bomb had been dropped by German forces in 1942 and was nicknamed “the Hermann” after Hermann Goring – Adolf Hitler’s second in command.

Its discovery prompted the Birks Grange Village and Clydesdale Rise student halls of residence to be evacuated and a 400-metre safety cordon established.

World War Two bomb detonated in controlled explosion


Image caption,The World War Two bomb was detonated in a controlled explosion


Residents at about 2,600 properties around Glenthorne Road, including 1,400 university students, were also evacuated.

The Army’s Royal Logistic Corps examined the rusting bomb and concluded that due to its age, and uncertainty over whether it was booby-trapped, it could not be safely removed for a controlled explosion, the court was told.

With the help of a Royal Navy bomb disposal team, the device was encased with some 400 tonnes of sand within a metal fence and detonated on the evening of 27 February, causing damage to some buildings in the immediate area.

The university submitted an insurance claim under its policy with Allianz in relation to damage to halls of residence and “business interruption” linked to the temporary rehousing of students.

Exeter bomb. Pic: Devon and Cornwall Police


Image caption,The bomb was found by construction workers


In a ruling on Wednesday, the judge said the insurer could have a court declaration that it was entitled to decline the university’s insurance claim.

Lawyers for the insurance firm argued the dropping of the bomb was a cause of the university’s loss, with this being an “act of war”.

But the university’s legal team said the cause of the loss was “the deliberate act of the bomb disposal team in detonating the bomb” and that it cannot have been intended that policy exemptions would apply to historic conflicts.

The judge noted there was “no suggestion at all that the explosive load of the bomb had become any less lethal over time”, adding that if it had been moved a “rolling cordon” of more than 1.2 miles (2km) would have been needed.

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