Added on 24-Jul-2002
A garden centre is being sued over claims it killed a collection of the late singer Freddie Mercury's prized koi fish. Mercury's former partner, Mary Austin, inherited the mansion and the Japanese koi collection when he died from an AIDS-related illness in 1991.
It is claimed 84 koi died when the electricity powering a temporary pond was accidentally turned off by a worker from Clifton Nurseries, of Maida Vale, west London.
Staff from the nurseries, based in Warwick Avenue, were carrying out landscaping work around the pond at the Queen singer's former home in Kensington.
At the time of Mercury's death he had amassed one of the best collections of the fish in the UK.
Ms Austin's solicitor, Russell Conway, said in a statement: "Mary Austin is extremely distressed at the death of 84 koi which were temporarily in a storage tank pending transfer into a new pond.
"The death of the koi was caused by an employee of Clifton Nurseries turning off the electricity supply to the tank.
"Solicitors acting for Mary Austin have contacted Clifton Nurseries with details of a claim for damages."
Mr Conway would not comment on the size of the claim but said he was getting valuations and the claim was likely to be "substantial".
Koi can live for up to 20 years and depending on its type can cost anywhere between a few pounds and £250,000.
Managing director of Clifton Nurseries Mike Miller was unavailable for comment.