Paul Ward and friend John Innes were forced to abandon to a liferaft from burning Meridian 341

The owner of a new motor boat that burst into flames off Calshot Spit in the Solent 15 minutes into its maiden voyage has been awarded £300,000 in compensation by the High Court.

Paul Ward, 62, picked up the keys to his new Meridian 341 from MGM Boats at Hamble Point Marina in February 2010 and was on passage to Rye when disaster struck.

Just as he eased the boat onto the plane, he and his friend, John Innes, noticed smoke and soon after they were forced to abandon to a liferaft to watch the boat burn to the waterline and sink.

Mr Ward launched his lawsuit earlier this year, claiming MGM Boats had breached the Sale of Goods Act 1979 by supplying a boat that was not fit for use.

In his judgement, Judge David Mackie QC said: “There is absolutely no evidence this fire occurred otherwise than as a result of defects with the engine or the boat.

“Subject to speculating on attacks from submarines or something, there is no available other explanation and, therefore, I have no difficulty in concluding that the claimant’s submissions are right.”

Judge Mackie ruled that Irish company MGM Boats would have to pay Mr Ward £291,000 in compensation, plus interest, and up to £154,000 to cover his legal costs.

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